Flower documented as dried specimen photographed in Manipur
Imphal, Jan. 20 (EMN): A flower documented only in dried specimens in India was photographed in a courtyard garden at Nambol area in Manipur’s Bishnupur district. Tabish Qureshi of the popular flower website www.flowersof india.net confirmed this when contacted on phone recently.
The flower, identified as Smooth Uncaria (Uncaria laevigata), was photographed by Dr. Kh Shamungou, a well-known environmentalist in Manipur, at his courtyard garden at Nambol, 18 km south of Imphal.
Initially, after seeing the photograph of the flower, Tabish, a physicist by profession at Jamia Millia Islamia University, said it could be the first photograph of a living plant of the species in India, adding that he could not find any picture of the living plant on the internet except for one site.
He also informed that Botanist Dr. Nidhan Singh of IB (PG) College, Panipat, has identified the genus – the first part of botanical name of the flower (as Uncaria).
According to Nidhan Singh it is some species of Uncaria. “Later on, I searched and identified it as Uncaria laevigata after comparing it with the known species of East Himalayas,” he said.
According to the flowers of India website, which currently has more than 6,000 identified flowers, Smooth Uncaria is a large climber with elliptic leaves and prominent hooked spines. Flowers are stalkless, flat-faced, hairless outside with a narrow tube.
Flowers are seen in round balls in leaf-axis and in branch-end clusters. It is found in forests at altitudes of 600-1,300 metres from North East India to China and South Asia. It flowers during May-November, it said.
Generally, Smooth Uncaria is commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat diseases of the cardiovascular and central nervous systems like hypertension, light-headedness, numbness and convulsions.
According to the photographer Dr. Shamungou, who is the chairman of Technical Committee Manipur State Wetlands Authority, the flower is named as Ningol Khoidumlei as it look like Kabok Khoidum (a local snack made of puffed rice with jaggery) and it flowers during Ningol Chakouba festival season (October-November).
There are also reports of spotting the Smooth Uncaria in Senapati district of Manipur.
The flora of India is both rich and diverse due to a wide range of variations in climate, altitude and ecological habitats, says a report on plant discoveries of the Botanical Survey of India.
At present, India has about 44,500 species of plants already identified and classified, it added.