Itanagar: Botanists have recently rediscovered the smilax turbans, a long-lost plant species akin to the well-known Ayurvedic therapeutic plant Chopchini (smilax china), in the pristine forests of Arunachal Pradesh’s Kurung Kumey district.
The plant was last collected 95 years ago, in 1928, by F. Kingdon-Ward.
The rediscovery was made by Ritesh Kumar Choudhary, a leading scientist at the Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute, and his doctoral student Geetika Sukhramani.
They presented a detailed description, illustrations, microscopic images, distribution, phenology, field observations, and comparisons with closely related species after the rediscovery to facilitate its identification and eventual conservation.
The rediscovery of smilax turbans is not only a scientific milestone but also holds immense ecological importance.
The researchers will now explore the role of this native species in the local ecosystem and its interaction with other flora and fauna.
The findings could also have implications for medicinal research, as various smilax species have been known for their therapeutic properties in traditional medicine.
Chopchini, for example, possesses anti-inflammatory properties and enhances the functioning of the immune system.
It also has beneficial effects on reproductive health and the gastrointestinal system, making it a highly valuable botanical resource for traditional Ayurvedic therapy.
The rediscovery of smilax turbans is a testament to the rich biodiversity of Arunachal Pradesh and the importance of conserving these unique ecosystems.
It is also a reminder of the need for continued exploration and research to discover new species and learn more about their potential benefits for human health and the environment.