Itanagar: Researchers from Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Itanagar regional centre, and Hapoli divisional forest office recently came across ‘Selaginella bryopteris’, a lithophytic plant which also known as the resurrecting herb or sanjeevani, in the Lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh.

Hapoli Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Abhinav Kumar, who took to Twitter to share the information on Saturday, said, “The species has been found near Kee River in Pistana circle of Lower Subansiri district.”

Kumar was a part of the survey team led by researchers Ashish K Soni and Vineet K Rawant from the Itanagar regional centre of the BSI. They discovered the ‘Selaginella bryopteris’ in the Pistana circle during the survey and collection of Pteridophytes (vascular plants) from the forests of Lower Subansiri district and Tale Wildlife Sanctuary earlier this year.

During the survey, Soni came across a healthy population of Selaginella and the plants were identified based on the book ‘Selaginellaceae of India’ by R D Dixit. The plant’s body coils to form a ball-like structure during the dry season and as soon as the atmospheric humidity is restored, the plants uncoil and become green.

Further research and identification confirmed it to be the ‘Selaginella bryopteris’ which has been recorded for the first time in the fern allies of the state.

According to the journal published in the East Himalayan Society for Spermatophyte Taxonomy, around 23 more species of the Selaginella have been reported in Arunachal Pradesh. However, the discovery of the ‘Selaginella bryopteris’ in the hilly state is a first.

Popularly known for its medicinal qualities, the ‘Selaginella bryopteris’ is also one of the plants that is considered as a candidate to be the sanjeevani that also finds mention in the Ramayana, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India.

According to various reports, Selaginella contains a variety of secondary metabolites such as alkaloids, phenol and terpenoids, etc., and has been used traditionally to treat wounds, irregular menstruation, uterine disorders and other internal injuries. Some also use it as a tonic to improve fitness and expand their life span.

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