Nepali botanist claims to have found new species of touch-me-notDr Bhakta Bahadur Raskoti has named the species ‘nimspurjae’ after the famous mountaineer Nirmal Purja.
A botanist from Nepal has claimed to have discovered a new species of the plant Genus Impatiens popularly known as touch-me-not.
Dr Bhakta Bahadur Raskoti, who specialises in plant research, discovered the new species while collecting plant samples for his botanical survey in Myagdi district in 2011.
“While collecting samples for the study, I saw a species of Impatiens which was different from other previously described species of this genus,” said Raskoti, “I took the photographs and collected some specimens to study them further.”
According to Raskoti, the new species of the plant Genus Impatiens was found at an elevation 2,800 metres which was different from other previously described species of this genus.
The herbarium specimens of the collected plants were prepared and deposited in the National Herbarium and Plant Laboratories in Godavari of Lalitpur district and the Tribhuvan University Central Herbarium.
“I checked the whole checklist of the Genus Impatiens catalogue, but it did not match the measurement and morphological characteristics,” said Raskoti.
Studies on the phyllotaxy, petiole, leaf shape, bracts, sepals, petals, androecium, gynoecium and fruits of the specimen, including a molecular phylogeny of the species were conducted to ascertain the taxonomic position of the newly collected plant.
“After the morphological and molecular analysis, the species was confirmed as a new species to science,” said Raskoti adding that it took him a decade to confirm the species is new to science.
A 57-page detailed study on the new species of the plant was published last month in the Plos one journal.
Kamal Maden, a botanist and a writer, praised the findings in the paper saying that the newly published research paper can act as a baseline for genus Impatiens of Nepal.
“The research paper gives complete information on Nepali Impatiens species. The coloured photographs and information of each species included in the paper is comprehensive,” said Maden.
Raskoti said the phylogenetic characteristics of the new species are different from its closely related species.
“The species is closely related to Impatiens harae, Imaptiens radiata, Impatiens wallichii, but differs from them since it has sessile oblong-lanceolate leaves,” Raskoti said.
According to Raskoti, the newly discovered species has sessile oblong-lanceolate leaves, each peduncle has less than three flowers, the base of of spur is flattened, apex of dorsal petal is rounded, and basal lobe of lateral united petal is widely ovate.
The Impatiens genus belongs to the Balsaminaceae family of the plant kingdom. The family has two genus: Impatiens and Hydrocera. In Nepal, no species of hydrocera have been recorded. The genus Impatiens is also used for ornamental and medicinal purposes in different parts of Nepal.
“The new species is known from the type locality in western Nepal where it grows in the temperate forest and forest margins at an elevation range of 2800–2900 metres,” informed Raskoti. “It grows on moist humid slopes.”
The species has been named as ‘nimspurjae’ which refers to the name of Nirmal Purja, alias Nims dai, a record-breaking climber who scaled 14 eight-thousanders in the shortest time.
“The species has been named to honour Nirmal Purja for his initiation of Conservation through climate change champion,” said botanist Raskoti.
Raskoti, during his different botanical surveys, has also discovered five species of Impatiens as new records for flora of Nepal.
Impatiens brachycentra was recorded in Myagdi at an elevation of 2400 m.
Likewise, Impatiens Cathcarthii (1,300 m), Impatiens infundibularis (1400 m) and Impatiens sikkimensis (1,500 m) in Ilam district and Impatiens gammiei in Taplejung district (3,400 m), were also found to be new species of the plant genus to Nepal.
With the discovery of the new species and five additional species that were recorded for the first time, a total 57 species of Impatiens has been confirmed in the updated checklist of Balsaminaceae in Nepal.
The research also concluded that there are currently eight endemic species of Impatiens in Nepal.
However, Maden, the botanist, said the number of endemic species of this genus is only six.
“Impatiens Scullyi and Impatiens Sunkoshinensis have recently been reported to be found in India and China,” he said.