New balsams add to Nilgiris biodiversity colours

Three new species of plants belonging to the Balsaminaceae family were identified in the Mukurthi National Park in the Nilgiris recently.

The three Balsams

  • Named : (1) Impatiens kawttyana (2) Impatiens taihmushkulni (3) Impatiens nilgirica
  • Found by Tarun Chhabra and Ramneek Singh a few years ago, were formally classified recently.
  • Impatiens kawttyana : Identifiable by its large, white flowers, glandular hairs followed by white hairs at the throat, and has been named after a Toda deity hill, ‘Kawtty’.
  • Impatiens taihmushkulni : Named after the Toda deity hill Taihmushkuln.
  • Impatiens nilgirica : Variant nawttyana differs slightly from a previously identified species, with the newly found variety having longer scape  and petioles with white flowers among other small variations. This variety was named based on on Todas members of the Balsaminaceae family Nawtty.
  • Sacred deity hills of the Todas are located inside the park and they have played a tremendous role in protecting the area.
  • Three new species were found in isolated pockets of the Mukurthi National Park and Porthimund reserve forests, and while I.taihmushkulni has been tentatively classified by researchers to be endangered.
  • There was not enough data on the other two species.
  • The new species throw light on the continued importance and diversity of the Nilgiris.

The Nilgiri

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  • An International Biosphere Reserve in the Western Ghats and Nilgiri Hills ranges of South India.
  • Reserve spreads over in the states of Tamil Nadu,  Karnataka and Kerala.
  • The Western Ghats, Nilgiri Sub-Cluster conjoining the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, is a World Heritage Site declared by UNESCO in 2012.
  • It includes the Mudumalai, Mukurthi, Sathyamangalam, Nagarhole, Wayanad, and Bandipur national parks.
  • Major Tribal groups : Todas, Kotas, Irullas, Kurumbas, Paniyas, Adiyans, Edanadan Chettis, Cholanaickens, Allar,Malayan.
  • There are more than 135 endemic species of plants in the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, of which the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu forms the core, with over 90 endemics.

Source : The Hindu, Wikipedia

GS III : Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment

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