Plant Species Believed Extinct Spotted Again in Himachal Pradesh

Brachystelma attenuatum

Image: Hindustan Times

Researchers from the Botanical Survey of India in Dehradun and Himachal Pradesh University in Shimla on Thursday said they have rediscovered a rare, threatened, and presumed extinct plant species, Brachystelma attenuatum, after a long gap of 188 years.

In Himachal Pradesh, researchers have successfully rediscovered a presumably extinct plant species, Brachystelma attenuatum, after 188. They spotted this rare, threatened, presumed extinct plant species in the Hamirpur and Mandi districts of Himachal Pradesh. This rare plant was last seen by British botanists Robert White and John Forbes in 1835 in the village of Dungi in Himachal Pradesh. But now researchers from the Botanical Survey of India, Dehradun, and Himachal Pradesh University have spotted the plant again.

A report based on this rediscovery is published by Cambridge University Press in July 2022 in the name of “Fauna and Flora International”, which is an international research journal ‘Oryx’ (Orix). According to this issue, the researchers first spotted the species in August 2021. But during that time plants were in later stages of development and their flowering period just ended. So, it was hard to recognize them and confirm their identity. After the flowering season, researchers again inspected similar areas. During their revisit, they identified the rare plant, Brachystelma attenuatum.

As per Hindustan Times, Brachystelma is among the 100 species of the Apocynaceae family. It is present in Asia, South Africa, and Australia. In India, there are around 40 species of this plant. It is majorly spread over the areas of Western Ghats. On the other hand, only four species of this plant are present in North India.

Out of four, only two species – B. attenuatum and B. pariflorum – are present in the western Himalayan region. B. parviflorum was rediscovered in 2020 and it was published in a study in the May 2021 issue of the journal Oryx.

Brachystelma attenuatum

Image: Wikipedia

According to Amber Srivastava from the Botanical Survey of India, more research is needed in this area after the reappearance of these two species that were believed to be extinct in the Western Himalayas. Moreover, special attention is required to take care of and preserve this rare plant species.

As per Nishant Choudhary of HPU, who was part of the research, they found a major challenge in the conservation of these species. One of the major challenges is anthropogenic activities. The plant is exploited wildly for eating its tubers. However, in the regions where this plant remains unidentified, it’s available in abundance.

Based on the collected data after the routine surveys of the regions, it’s found that Brachystelma attenuatum is still threatened with extinction due to its spread over a small region. The plant species’ population declined drastically because of the consumption of its tubers in certain areas.

So, to preserve it, it needs to be included in the Red List of the International Union. Plus, a proper policy needs to be prepared for its protection.

Via: HindustanTimes

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