Kakching: A team of researchers from Manipur University and Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt Ltd have made an exciting botanical discovery by identifying a new flowering plant species in the Kakching district of Manipur. This plant found growing along the banks of the Sekmai River, has been named “Curcuma kakchingense” in honor of the location where it was unearthed.
The team of researchers responsible for this discovery includes Dr. L Bidyaleima, Dr. Rajkumar Kishor, and Prof. GJ Sharma from the Department of Life Sciences at Manipur University. Their discovery has been documented and published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nordic Journal of Botany.
Belonging to the angiosperm family Zingiberaceae, which encompasses well-known genera such as Curcuma, Gingers, and Cardamom, Curcuma kakchingense stands out as a robust plant, reaching heights of up to eight feet and sporting large terminal inflorescence.
Dr. L Bidyaleima, one of the lead researchers, remarked, “The species bears a close resemblance to Curcuma phrayawan, a plant species native to Thailand, and Curcuma longa, known as ‘yaingang’ in the local tongue. However, what sets it apart is its distinctive lemon-yellow rhizomes with a notably bitter taste.”
As the plant’s presence is currently known only from a specific area, and there is limited information regarding its distribution and the number of mature individuals in its natural habitat, the conservation status of Curcuma kakchingense remains classified as “Data Deficient” under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List category. This classification implies that the available data related to its risk of extinction is insufficient to perform a comprehensive assessment, and therefore, the potential threat of extinction to this unique plant is yet to be determined, according to Dr. Rajkumar Kishor of Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt Ltd.
Prior to the discovery of Curcuma kakchingense, there were just 93 recorded Curcuma species recognized as accepted worldwide, with a significant majority originating from Thailand. In India, 42 Curcuma species have been recorded, with the last discovery being Curcuma kshonapatra in Karnataka in 2016 and Curcuma rubrobracteata in Mizoram in 2003.
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Curcuma plants hold significant importance due to their diverse uses in various fields, including cuisine, traditional medicine, spices, dyes, perfumes, cosmetics, and as ornamental plants.
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