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New Species of Pipeworts

New Species of Pipeworts

Context:

Scientists from the Agharkar Research Institute have discovered two new species of pipeworts in the Western Ghats of Maharashtra and Karnataka.

Pipeworts (Eriocaulon):

  • It is a plant group that completes its life cycle within a small period during monsoon. It exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats.
  • Around 111 species of pipeworts are found in India. Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and the eastern Himalayas, and around 70 % of them are endemic to the country.

About the species:

  • The species reported from Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra has been named Eriocaulon parvicephalum (due to its minute inflorescence size), and the other reported from Kumta, Karnataka is called Eriocaulon karaavalense (named after Karaavali, Coastal Karnataka region).
  • One species, Eriocaulon cinereum, is known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties.
  • E. quinquangulare is used against liver diseases. E. madayiparense is an anti-bacterial from Kerala.
  • The medicinal properties of the newly discovered species are yet to be explored.
  • The scientists wanted to trace the evolutionary history of the genus Eriocaulon and made extensive efforts to collect as many species as possible from India from the Western Ghats.

Issues:

  • Identification of the species belonging to Eriocaulon is very difficult as they all look similar, which is why the genus is often referred to as a ‘Taxonomist’s nightmare’.
  • Its tiny flowers and seeds make it difficult to distinguish between different species.

Source: Hindustan Times