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Abundant in widespread vegetation and wildlife, the Western Ghats, extending from Gujarat to Kerala, also a UNESCO heritage location which plays a vital role in climatic situation of the country, still remains a enigma for researchers. They regularly uncover new plants, frogs, reptiles, and other species there.

Three research intellectuals, one from the United States among them, have found a new plant in Ponmudi hills in Kerala which is portion of the Western Ghats, one of the eight hotspots of ecological variety in the globe.

Naming of the species after the name of the most renowned scientist

They named the plant after Dr N Mohanan (Symplocos Mohananii), former principal scientist and now scientific adviser of M S Swaminathan Research Foundation in Wayanad, north Kerala. They stated the tree was identified after the researcher for his exceptional contribution covering 37 years in the field of taxonomy (classification of plants) and preservation of biodiversity. He discovered more than 33 new species from the Western Ghats and six species were re-discovered many years later (some of them were written off as extinct). Three researchers– Stephan J, Akhil R, both from the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research institute (JNTBGRI) in Palode (Thiruvananthapuram) and Peter W Fritsch (curator and scientist) from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, USA formed part of the team. They have been doing study on ‘Symplocos Mohananii’ for more than four years.

The plant was spotted from a hill which was about 3000 feet above sea level, and they spent days together in forests, said Fritsch. He said the plant carries white colored flowers and they could not record opening of flowers so far. White- colored flowers usually open at night.

Rich in endemic flora and fauna, the Western Ghats, stretching from Gujarat to Kerala, also a UNESCO heritage site which plays an important role in climatic condition of the country, still remains a mystery for scientists. They periodically discover new plants, frogs, reptiles and other species there.

Subsequent serious worries over the lessening of its green cover due to human meddling, the Union government had set up an expert panel under prominent ecologist Madhav Gadgil. In 2011 he had submitted his report. When all six states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu) coming under the shadow of the Ghats resisted the Gadgil Panel proposals, a working group was constituted under Dr Kasturirangan, former ISRO chief. A watered-down version was done, it was also resisted. Now both expert reports are collecting dirt in government lockers.

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