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Botanical Survey of India (BSI) scientists have discovered two new species of ginger named Hedychium chingmeianum and Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis in easternmost districts of northeast India. Both the plants belong to the family of Zingiberaceae, to which the commonly found ginger (Zingiber officinale) belongs.
Hedychium chingmeianum: It was discovered in Tuensang district in Nagaland, both bordering Myanmar. It is an epiphytic plant and grows on trunks of tall trees. It has reddish stems and creamy white flowers.
Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis: It was found growing in rock crevices, boulders and humus rich soil in the Shirui Hills in Ukhrul in Manipur. It has beautiful oval-shaped pink flowers which appear in June-July. It has been named after Mr. Dinabandhu Sahoo.
Out of 44 taxa, 31 species and 13 varieties of genus Hedychium found in India, only 5 are reported in south India. The remaining species are all found in northeast. Most of the species under this genus have medicinal properties. However, it is yet to be ascertained whether the newly discovered species Hedychium chingmeianum has medicinal properties or not.
According to the Animal Discoveries 2016, New Species and Records, brought out by the Zoological Survey of India and Plant Discoveries 2016, by the Botanical Survey of India, 499 new species have been discovered from various parts of the country last year.
Of the new discoveries, 258 are invertebrates and 55 are vertebrates. Around 97 are insects, 27 are fish, 12 are amphibians, 10 are Platyhelminthes, nine are Crustacea, six species of reptiles, 61 species of moths and butterflies and 38 of beetles.
The new species are known to occur in the four biological hotspots of the country, namely, the Himalayas, the northeast, the Western Ghats and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
As per the Animal Discoveries 2016, the number of animal species in the country for the first time has crossed one lakh to number 1,00,693. Till last year, the number of animal species in India was 97,514. India is one of the 17 megadiversity countries and is home to 6.42% of the global fauna.
As per Plant Discoveries 2016 , 186 new species of plants have been discovered including seven new genera, four subspecies and nine new varieties taking the total number of species to 206. The publication lists 113 new records from India.
The new species of the plant were discovered in the Western Ghats (17%), followed by the Eastern Himalayas (15%), the Western Himalayas (13%), the Eastern Ghats (12%) and the west coast (8%).
Eight new species of wild balsams, five species of wild ginger and one species of wild amla has been discovered. In addition, 39 varieties of mushrooms have been discovered.
The Botanical Survey of India (BSI) is the apex research organization under the MOEF for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country. BSI was established on 13th February, 1890 with the basic objective to explore the plant resources of the country and to identify the plants species with economic virtues.
The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) was launched in 1916. It is India’s apex organization on animal taxonomy. It’s objective is to promote the survey, exploration, research and documentation on various aspects of animal taxonomy in the Indian subcontinent. It also seeks advancement of knowledge on animal taxonomy. It has been declared as the designated repository for the National Zoological Collection as per section 39 of the National Biodiversity Act, 2002