Discovery of New species of Lesser known genus of the tree (Pyrostria laljii) honored to Indian Botanical Scientist serving in Islands

The team of Philipines and Indian Researchers have discovered the lesser known genus, Pyrostria of this family and add one more genus in Indian Rubiaceae. Most of the species of this genus are endemic to Madagascar, also distributed in Mauritius, Comoros, Réunion, Rodrigues, Socotra, continental Africa and tropical Southeast Asia.  

In India this genus has been recorded for the first time with discovery of new species from the tropical zone of Andaman Islands. Botanists from Philippines & India, (Axel H. Arriola from University of the East, Manila Philippines, M.C. Naik from BSI & M.Bheemalingappa from Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapuram) have discovered new species of the genus Pyrostria from the Anda­man and Nicobar Islands (published in an international, peer-reviewed journal, Annales Botanici Fennici 57: 335-340, 2020).

The species has named as Pyrostria laljii honoured in the name of an eminent Indian Botanist, Dr. Lal Ji Singh, Joint Director & Head of Office, Andaman and Nicobar regional centre, Botanical survey of India, for his significant contribution to the plant taxonomy. Dr. Singh has been discovered several novelties & botanical curiosities from these Islands. Dr. Singh devotion and insistence came out with a very interesting an invention of reusable eco-friendly drinking straw, discovery of more than 15 new plant as new to science, various new additions to Indian as well as Islands Flora, occurrence of phloem wedges in roots of some Bignoniaceous Genera, vessels in some pteridophytes and vivipary in some non mangrove plants, recording of phenology of trees of these Islands. His outstanding achievements has  also been recognized by many awards such as fellow of the Linnean Society of London (FLS), Indian Botanical Society (FBS), Association of Plant Taxonomy (FAPT), Andaman Science Association (FASA), South Asia Thematic School (ASIAME), The Orchid Society of India (TOSI) and others..

The new species, Pyrostria laljii representing thefirst record of the genus for India, M.C. Naik behind this discovery said. Pyrostria laljiiisevergreen trees, to 15 m tall,  and  distinguished from previously known species in having stem shiny, with a whitish coating, oblong-obovate leaves with cuneate base, acuminate apex and ver long petiole,dimorphic indumentums, umbel­late inflorescence with 8–12 flowers, flowers white to cream, after pollination turning brown, bracteate, subglobose pyrene, fruit drupes, obovoid or subglobose, green to yellow or white, when mature turning pale yellow to brown, seed a single one in each pyrene. The new species, Pyrostria laljii is assessed as ‘Critically Endangered based on IUCN Red List  criteria and category[CR B1 B2 a, b (iii) ].

            Besides Pyrostria, thefamilyRubiaceae represented by several genera in India which have high potential of economic valu, e.g., Cinchona, Coffea, Adina, Hamelia, Ixora, Galium, Gardenia, Mussaenda, Rubia, Morinda and many others. Approximately 274 species in about 76 genera are recognized in India. From the point of view of its economic importance, the family is of great value. eg. The famous medicine of malaria, Quinine is obtained from bark of Cinchona sps.; The non-­alcoholic beverage “coffee” is obtained from its seeds of Coffea arabica; Adina cordifolia  is a beautiful shade giving tree. The wood is used for carvings, construction work, flooring and for railway carriages. The plant possesses antiseptic properties. The members of this family are distributed primarily in tropical areas of the world.

Anda­man and Nicobar Islands are rich and unique in terms of plant diversity in India where novelties have been discovered time to time.  The islands thrives number of unique taxa, they have great socio-economic significance such as wild species of banana, zingers, orchids, mango, bamboo etc. which  might be a choice of genetic base for plant breeders to develop high yielding, disease resistant variety, Dr.  Lal Ji Singh, Joint Director & Scientist of Botanical Survey of India, said.

 In addition toPyrostria laljii, a new species in Pokeweed family Petiveriaceae have discovered by BSI Scientists.

New Species of Pokeweed, Rivina andamanensis

While inventorying the floristic diversity in Islands a new species of Pokeweed genus Rivina have discovered by Dr. Lal Ji Singh and Dr. M.C. Naik. Botanically Rivina is a genus of the family Petiveriaceae and distributed throughout the tropical and subtropical region of the world. In India this family only recorded from various parts of mainland but has so far not been reported from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This discovery of new species also representing the first record of the pokeweed family Petiveriaceae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and add one more family in Islands flora.

The new species named in honour of the place of discovery; Andaman Islands as Rivina andamanensis and published in an international, peer-reviewed journal, Journal of Asia-Pacific Biodiversity13: 482-486. Discoverers stated that this new species found growing under large trees shaded places & Rocky areas along with herbs and shrubby plants. Its distribution confined in to a few localities of group of Andaman Islands, Dr. Lal Ji Singh, Scientist behind this discovery told.

Rivina andamanensis is assessed as “data deficient” based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) categories and criteria Dr. Lal Ji Singh, Scientist behind this discovery told.

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