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New plant species named after forest officer’s daughter
Sivasish Thakur
 GUWAHATI, Feb 5 - A new species of Amomum (Zingiberaceae) discovered by forest officer Jatindra Sarma and his team of researchers has been acknowledged in the highly-acclaimed Phytotaxa magazine.

Sarma, who has named the new species as Amomum Pratisthana, i.e., after his daughter Pratistha, discovered the plant during a field exploration at Upper Dihing Reserve Forest in Tinsukia district in April 2013.

“We came across some mature specimens of this plant in vegetative condition. A few of them were brought under cultivation and after four years the plants finally flowered in May 2017. A critical examination of floral and vegetative morphology revealed that the plants represented an undescribed species of the genus Amomum,” Sarma, who is currently working as the Conservator of Forest, Research and Education, with additional charge to look after the State Medicinal Plants Board, Assam as Member Secretary, told The Assam Tribune.

The New Zealand-based Phytotaxa magazine noted that there were about 23 species in India and mainly concentrated in the north-eastern part of India.

“The new species differs from Amomum Trilobum Gagnepain in having loosely clasping leaf-sheaths to its pseudostem, unlobed labellum, cuspidate apex of dorsal corolla lobe and by the absence of tooth-like lobe at the base of the anther crest,” the magazine noted.

“The specific epithet is for the daughter of first author, Miss Pratistha Sarma… She inspired and continually appreciated her father for performing botanical explorations,” it added.

The species which is a type of ginger, occurs sporadically in three localities. The area of occupancy (AOO) is estimated as 8 sq km and the extent of occurrence (EOO) is estimated to be 1,279 sq km. But there is no continuous decline in AOO, EOO, quality of habitat or number of location and sub-populations. Hence, the species is categorised under ‘Least Concern’, it observed.

Sarma’s team comprised Santanu Dey, Chandrakant Krishnaji Salunkhe and Hussain Ahmed Barbhuiya respectively.

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