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Guwahati: Researchers from Manipur have spotted a new plant species of “Cherry Blossom”, reports said.  

The researchers have named the new plant species as “Prunus dinabandhuana” as a mark of respect to scientist Dr Dinabandhu Sahoo for his outstanding contributions.

The Cherry Blossom or “Sakura” is the national flower of Japan, which is also a source of inspiration for the Japanese people.

The “Cherry Blossom” is now available in six of the eight northeastern states, excluding Assam and Tripura thanks to the eight-year-long determined efforts of Sahoo.

In November 2016, Dr Sahoo, a professor at the Department of Botany at the University of Delhi (DU) planned and organised India’s first “Cherry Blossom Festival” in Shillong which attracted lakhs of people and subsequently, it became an international event for the past six years.

According to Dr Avitoli G. Zhimo, Assistant Director, Centre for Himalayan Studies in DU, scientists Biseshwori T and Jenifer M from Imphal (Manipur) based Institute of Bio resources and Sustainable Development (IBSD) found a new plant species of “Cherry Blossom”.

As a mark of respect and for the outstanding contributions of Sahoo, they named the new plant species as ‘Prunus dinabandhuana’ (Family Rosaceae) in his first name.

The plants grow up to 25-30 meters in dense mixed evergreen forest and unlike the Japanese Cherry Blossom which blooms during March-April, this new species bloom in November, Zhimo said.

He said that their new findings were recently published in the latest issue of a reputed International scientific journal Annales Botanici Fennici, Helsinki, Finland.

Sahoo said that Cherry Blossom, popularly known as Sakura in Japanese, is a symbol of peace and tranquility.

He said that the Cherry Blossom festivals attract millions of tourists from across the globe to Japan and the US from March-April generating millions of dollars in revenue.

But the situation changed a few years ago as India became a new destination for the Cherry Blossom festival, he pointed out.

In 2014, Sahoo, currently a Director of the Centre for Himalayan Studies and Director, Cluster Innovation Centre and Senior Professor of Department of Botany of DU, while visiting Shillong spotted a Cherry Blossom tree in full bloom in the city.

He then thought of launching a “Cherry Blossom Festival” in India.

In the same year 2014, Sahoo was appointed as the Director of the IBSD, a national institute, and immediately after his joining, he started exploring the deep forests of northeastern states for the presence of Cherry Blossom.

Sahoo, who was the first Indian student to visit Antarctica in 1987, said that he found that Cherry Blossom is native to the Himalayas.

“In 2015, I planned the Mission Pink Revolution or Mission Cherry Blossom for India. Thousands of Cherry Blossom saplings were planted in Shillong and Manipur in early 2015 in collaboration with the state governments,” he said.

Due to his sustained efforts, the first Manipur Cherry Blossom festival was held in 2017 at Mao, the border town of Manipur and Nagaland.

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