New plant species recorded in Kekar-Monying

ITANAGAR, 7 Apr: Three researchers have recorded a new plant species of genus Begonia in Kekar Monying, in Siang district which has been published in Phytotaxa, a leading journal in plant taxonomy.

The article was jointly authored by Momang Taram, a PhD scholar of Rajiv Gandhi University, Dipankar Borah, Assistant Professor of Goalpara College  and Mark Hughes of Tropical Biodiversity Scientist of the Royal Botanic Gardens, England.

“The new species finds its extant population in the moist crevices near Kekar Monying, a mountain cliff of Babuk in Siang district, Arunachal Pradesh. The stone cliff is about 500 metres long and 50 meters high and offers a stunning view of the surrounding area after the hike. And hence the name of the species, Begonia kekarmonyingensis”, said a statement from one of the researchers.

The common name for the species is Kekar-monying Begonia, which will easily grab the attention for the place, the species and it would be easy for the locals to understand and pronounce the name. And hopefully, they would care for this species, as of their own, the release stated.

Given the single location and lack of protection for the area, the species is assessed as ‘Vulnerable, IUCN category’.

They have appealed to the Arunachal Government to take necessary steps in protection and offer their efforts for keeping the species extant for the next generations.

The flowering of the species is between February-April.

This is the second begonia species they have jointly published after the famous Begonia oyuniae named by Oyun Dai, mother of Momang Taram.

“Begonia is a very complex genus with a lot of sections and 2000 species, and it is difficult to identify them and find its closest allies. We almost failed to find the second ally, but it was an editor from China who helped us find it,” Momang Taram said in a release.

“It was in February when Momang called to inform that she has found an interesting Begonia, and it must be a new one. We did the description and were sure of the help from Mark Hughes, an expert on Begonia currently engaged in Royal Botanic Gardens, England. After contacting him, we shared the conversation and emails for almost six months, and finally communicated to Phytotaxa. The subject editor we were assigned is another expert on Chinese begonias, and we were glad as this would further validate our observation and would get very close scrutiny from the experts of the nearest border. After we received the first review with comments from four different reviewers, it almost took us six more months to get back to them with the responses and justifications. It was finally published after one year and two months from the day we took the species in hand,” the release quoted Dipankar Borah.