As one of the world’s mega-biodiverse countries, India is home to a rich variety of plants, many of which are found only in this region (a phenomenon called endemism). Unfortunately, many of these species are also threatened and at the risk of becoming extinct with environmentalists and scientists feeling like they’re in a race against time when it comes to ensuring their survival.
From weird to wonderful, we profile some of India’s endemic and endangered plants before they go missing forever:
Name: Himalayan Sapria (Sapria Himalayana)
Description: Native to the Eastern Himalayas, this parasitic plant produces some of the smelliest flowers in the plant kingdom. The species is found in parts of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and in some parts of South East Asia.
Threats: Habitat destruction, Human interference
Name: Red Sanders (Pterocarpus santalinus)
Description: Famous for its rich red wood, this tree species is native to the dry deciduous areas of the Eastern Ghats in Andhra Pradesh. The tree’s wood is not aromatic but its colour makes it very much in demand.
Threats: Illegal logging, habitat destruction
Name: Pitcher Plant (Nepenthes Khasiana)
Description: India’s only native pitcher plant, this rare variety is found in the Khasi and Garo Hills in Meghalaya (from where the plant gets its name). Pitcher plants are carnivorous and can digest insects.
Threats: Habitat destruction, mining, construction, poaching
Name: Himalayan Yew (Taxus wallichiana)
Description: Native to the Himalayan mountain chain and parts of South East Asia, the leaves and bark of this tree are a source for cancer fighting compounds in addition to a host of other medicinal uses. Sadly, overexploitation has seen the tree decline by over 90 percent of its native range in India and Nepal
Threats: Overexploitation for medicinal use, logging, habitat destruction
Name: Fragrant Ceropegia (Ceropegia Odorata)
Status: Critically Endangered
Description: Found only in a few areas of Maharashtra today, this fragrant flowering plant is known for its medicinal uses and is edible as well. Always rare, the plant has vanished from most of its recorded sites.
Threats: Human interference, Small population size.
Shalini Iyengar is a lawyer and Research Associate at the International University College of Turin.
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