Ayurvedic therapeutic plant rediscovered in Arunachal’s forest

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Botanists have recently rediscovered the smilax turbans, a long-lost plant species akin to a well known an Ayurvedic therapeutic plant in the pristine forests of Kurung Kumey district of Arunachal Pradesh, 500 km away from where it was last collected 95 years ago.

 The plant, an endemic species of Arunachal Pradesh, is a wild counterpart of Chopchini, also known as smilux china  well known Ayurvedic therapeutic plant, according to a report in the website of  the department of science and technology.

It was last collected in 1928 by F Kingdon-Ward and the researchers presented detailed description, illustrations, microscopic images, distribution, phenology, field and comparisons with closely related species after the rediscovery to facilitate its identification and eventual conservation.

The feat came during recent exploratory endeavors aimed at locating it the wild relative of Chopchini (smilax china) in the country.  Ritesh Kumar Choudhary, a leading scientist of the Pune-based Agharkar Research Institute and his doctoral student Geetika Sukhramani successfully identified the plant blooming in Kurung Kumey district. The information about the rediscovery was uploaded in the website.

According to the report, the rediscovery 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 potentially have implications for medicinal research as various smilax species have been known for their therapeutic properties in traditional medicine, it said.

Chopchini possesses anti-inflammatory properties and enhances the functioning of the immune system besides overall well-being. Along with these are its beneficial effects on reproductive health and gastrointestinal system, which makes Chopchini a highly valuable botanical resource for traditional Ayurvedic therapy.

There are approximately 262 distinct species of the plant across the globe with 39 of them growing in India.