Two new species of Zingiber, commonly referred to as gingers have been discovered from Nagaland by the scientists from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). Zingiber perenense has been discovered from the Peren district of Nagaland, while Zingiber dimapurense was found in the Dimapur district of the State, reported The Hindu.
Of the two species, Zingiber dimapurense is taller, with leafy shoots measuring 90-120 cm high, whereas the leafy shoots of Zingiber perenense reach up to 70 cm.
The lip of the flower (modified corolla) for Zingiber dimapurense is white in colour, with dense dark- purplish red blotches. Its pollen is a creamy-white and ovato-ellipsoidal, whereas the fruit is an oblong 4.5 cm-5.5 cm long capsule.
The specimen of Zingiber dimapurense was collected in October 2016 from the Hekese village forest under the Medziphema subdivision. Some rhizomes of this plant collected along with field data were planted in the Botanical Survey of India’s Eastern Regional Centre garden in Shillong, where itself they began flowering in June 2018, reported the daily.
Zingiber perenense was discovered about 50 kilometers away from where Zingiber dimapurense was found. The lip of the flower for Zingiber perenense is white in colour with purplish-red streaks all over, and the pollen is ellipsoidal.
The type specimens of Zingiber perenense were collected in September 2017, when botanists were working on the ‘State flora of Nagaland’ in the Peren district. “The plant was found growing in moist shady places on the bank of a small steam in the hilly terrain forest of the Tesen village under the Peren subdivision,” The Hindu quoted the publication authored by four botanists mentioning.
The daily reported Dr. Dilip Kumar Roy, who has contributed to both the publications saying that the genus Zingiber has 141 species distributed throughout Asia, Australia and the South Pacific, with its centre of diversity in Southeast Asia. He added that more than 20 species have been found in northeastern India. Furthermore, according to Dr Roy, over the last few years, more than half a dozen species have been discovered from different states of northeast India only.
Earlier discoveries of Zingiber include Hedychium chingmeianum from the Tuensang district of Nagaland, Caulokaempferia dinabandhuensis from the Ukhrul district in Manipur in 2017, and Zingiber bipinianum from Meghalaya in 2015.
Another scientist with the BSI, Dr. Nripemo Odyou, who also contributed to both the new discoveries in 2019, said that the high diversity of ginger species in northeast India reveals that the climate is favourable for the growth and diversity of the genus.
Dr Odoyu said that while most species of ginger have medicinal values,more studies are required to ascertain the medicinal properties of the newly discovered species.