Ayurvedic therapeutic plant rediscovered in Arunachal’s forest

by Arjun Singh

Botanists have made an exciting discovery in the forests of Arunachal Pradesh, India. They have recently rediscovered a long-lost plant species called smilax turbans, which is similar to a well-known Ayurvedic therapeutic plant. This plant species was last collected 95 years ago, but it has now been found in the Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The smilax turbans is an endemic species of Arunachal Pradesh and is considered the wild counterpart of the Chopchini plant, also known as smilux china, which is a well-known Ayurvedic therapeutic plant. The discovery was made by botanists Ritesh Kumar Choudhary and Geetika Sukhramani from the Agharkar Research Institute in Pune. They successfully identified the plant blooming in the Kurung Kumey district and presented detailed descriptions, illustrations, microscopic images, and comparisons with closely related species.

This rediscovery is not only a scientific milestone but also holds immense ecological importance. The researchers plan to explore the role of this native species in the local ecosystem and its interaction with other flora and fauna. Smilax species, including Chopchini, have been known for their therapeutic properties in traditional medicine. Chopchini possesses anti-inflammatory properties, enhances the immune system, and has positive effects on reproductive health and the gastrointestinal system.

To ensure the long-term survival of the rediscovered plant species, a comprehensive report has been compiled for the Arunachal Pradesh forest department. This report suggests measures to protect the plant species from any risks and emphasizes the importance of preserving unique biodiverse ecosystems. The rediscovery provides scientists with the opportunity to learn more about the species and potentially develop new pharmaceuticals, herbal remedies, or agricultural commodities that could benefit human health and livelihoods.

Smilax turbans, also known as smilax china, is a rare plant with approximately 262 distinct species worldwide, 39 of them growing in India. The plant first came to light in the early 20th century when it was described by scientists F T Wang and Tang. However, it seemingly vanished from scientific records after its initial identification and remained hidden for 95 years.

Ritesh Kumar Choudhary, one of the leading scientists involved in the rediscovery, called it a remarkable achievement for the scientific community. He emphasized the significance of preserving biodiversity and conducting thorough explorations in remote regions. The rediscovery of smilax turbans serves as a reminder of the mysteries that still lie hidden in the world’s most remote and biodiverse regions and the importance of preserving these unique ecosystems.

Overall, the rediscovery of the smilax turbans in Arunachal Pradesh is an important scientific and ecological milestone. It highlights the need to protect and preserve unique plant species and their habitats. Further research on this native species could have significant implications for medicinal research and the development of new therapies. It also underscores the importance of exploring remote regions to uncover the wonders of nature that remain hidden from the world.

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