Guwahati: You may have heard about lipstick, but how about the lipstick plant?

Scientists have found the Indian lipstick plant, Aeschynanthus monetaria Dunn, after a century from Hyuliang and Chipru of Anjaw district in Arunachal Pradesh.

“Due to the appearance of tubular red corolla, some of the species under the genus Aeschynanthus are called lipstick plants,” Krishna Chowlu scientist with the Arunachal Pradesh Regional Centre of Botanical Survey of India told EastMojo.

The study was published in the Current Science journal. The other co-author is Gopal Krishna.

The generic name Aeschynanthus is derived either from the Greek aischyne or aischynō, meaning shame or to be ashamed, respectively, and anthos meaning flower, alluding to the usually red-coloured corolla.

The British botanist, Stephen Troyte Dunn described this species in 1912 based on plant materials collected from Arunachal Pradesh by Isaac Henry Burkill, another English botanist.

A perusal of the pertinent literature and critical examination of fresh specimens, as well as digital images of specimens in the Kew Herbarium Catalogue, revealed that the collected specimens were A. monetaria that had never been collected from India after Burkill in 1912.

However, the occurrence of this species was reported in China by Hu et al in 2020. This species is poorly represented in Indian herbaria even though several Indian botanists have well-explored this region since the 1970s.

 The plant grows in moist and evergreen forests, at elevations ranging from 543 to 1134 m. The flowering and fruiting are from October to January. Aeschynanthus monetaria Dunn is morphologically unique and distinct among all the Aeschynanthus species known from India by its fleshy orbicular leaves with a greenish upper surface and purplish-green lower surface.

“Landslides are frequent in the Anjaw district of Arunachal Pradesh. Developmental activities such as broadening of roads, construction of schools, new settlements and markets, and Jhum cultivation are some of the major threats to this species in Arunachal Pradesh” Krishna Chowlu said.

“Both ex-situ and in-situ conservation is required since most of the Aeschynanthus require microhabitat,” she said.

The species has been provisionally assessed here as ‘Endangered’, following the guidelines of IUCN.

During the present study, 40–50 individuals in four different localities were observed in Arunachal Pradesh.

The Forest Survey of India 2019 says Arunachal Pradesh is a forest-rich state in the Eastern Himalayan region of the country. The state has 20% species of the country’s fauna, 4500 species of flowering plants, 400 species of pteridophytes, 23 species of conifers, 35 species of bamboos, and 20 species of canes, 52 Rhododendron species and more than 500 species of orchids. According to Champion and Seth Classification of Forest Types( 1968), the forests in the state belong to 11 type groups which are further divided into 23 different forest types.

It says the diversity of topographical and climatic conditions has favoured the growth of luxuriant forests, which are home to myriad plant and animal forms, adding beauty to the landscape.

“With increasing population, developmental activities and practices like jhuming, the pressure on forest resources is consistently increasing, leading to their degradation, and affecting regeneration and productivity,” the FSI says.

There have been lots of rediscoveries of various species in Arunachal which speaks about the rich biodiversity of the state, but experts say more dedicated explorations are needed to unravel more. 

Also read: Tripura minister assures holistic development of extinct Karbong tribe

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