Fourteen plant species new to Nepal identified

Posted on 18 March 2008
One of the 14 plant species new to Nepal
Castanopsis longispina
© Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal (ESON)

Kathmandu, Nepal – A team of ethnobotanists from Kathmandu have recorded 14 new plant species for Nepal recently. The species were catalogued following a plant collection and inventorying expedition in Ilam and Pancthar districts of eastern Nepal, in the foothills of the Kangchenjunga mountains.

“This is an exciting discovery. We have always known that the true extent of biodiversity in the region has been vastly underestimated. There are bound to be more new species identified in the future,” said Dr. Krishna Shrestha, President of the Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal (ESON), the organization that surveyed the area.

ESON’s plant collection expedition studied the floral diversity in nine Village Development Committees (VDCs) along the Lower Kangchenjunga-Singalila Ridge in eastern Nepal. The survey team comprised eight members from the ESON team led by the organization’s President Dr. Krishna Shrestha and two members representing local partners - the Deep Jyoti Youth Club in Panchthar, and the Shree High Altitude Herb Growers Group of Ilam.

During the three weeks of the expedition, the team recorded the status, richness, and diversity of plants of forest and agricultural land in the project sites. This information was then disseminated to the local community, who gained knowledge about the management and significance of such ecological research.

Following plant collection, the dried specimens were matched against depository specimens at Tribhuvan University’s Central Herbarium and those stored at the National Herbarium in Godavari, both located in Kathmandu. Literature and documents on the flora of China, Bhutan and Sikkim were also consulted to aid in identification. The final check in the identification process was at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, one of the world’s leading authorities in identifying and naming plants.

ESON’s plant survey was made possible through a grant from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). The grant is part of CEPF’s strategy to conserve key biodiversity areas in the Eastern Himalayas.
Biodiversity in the area surveyed by the ESON team is threatened by chronic collection of non-timber forest products; harvest of trees for fuel, fodder, and lumber; and conversion of forests for agriculture leading to ecosystem degradation and loss of habitat. CEPF grants are available to NGOs working in the Eastern Himalayan region in Nepal, Bhutan and northeast India to combat these threats.

CEPF is a joint initiative of Conservation International (CI), l’Agence Française de Développement, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. In the Eastern Himalayas region, WWF leads the regional team responsible for facilitating, coordinating and monitoring grants for CEPF-supported conservation projects.

The species identified as new to Nepal are:

1. Acronema ioniostyles (Umbelliferae)
2. Asparagus filicinus (Liliaceae)
3. Begonia flaviflora (Begoniaceae)
4. Bothriochloa bladhii (Gramineae)
5. Calamogrostis lahulensis (Gramineae)
6. Carex cruciata var. agrocarpa (Cyperaceae)
7. Juncus clarkei (Juncaceae)
8. Juncus khasiensis (Juncaceae)
9. Polygonatum leptophyllum (Liliaceae)
10. Potentilla lineata (Rosaceae)
11. Potentialla sundaica (Rosaceae)
12. Rubia hispidicaulis (Rubiaceae)
13. Strobilanthes helicta Anderson (Acanthaceae)
14. Swertia wardii C. Marquand (Gentianaceae)

For more information
Sampreethi Aipanjiguly
Communications Officer
CEPF – Eastern Himalayas
WWF Nepal Programme Office, Kathmandu

Ang Phuri Sherpa
National Coordinator for Nepal
CEPF – Eastern Himalayas
WWF Nepal Programme Office

One of the 14 plant species new to Nepal
Castanopsis longispina
© Ethnobotanical Society of Nepal (ESON) Enlarge