IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Extinct tree Madhuca diplostemon found after 180 years in Kollam grove

17th October, 2020 Biodiversity

Context: Scientists at the Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) at Palode have identified the tree as Madhuca diplostemon (family Sapotaceae), a threatened species of the Western Ghats whose specimen was first collected in 1835.

Madhuca diplostemon

  • It was in 1835 that Madhuca diplostemon, a threatened species of the Western Ghats, was spotted.
  • A tree species, long believed extinct, has been rediscovered after a gap of more than 180 years from a sacred grove in Kollam district.
  • Only one mature tree has been found so far, which makes this remarkable rediscovery extremely valuable from a scientific, environmental and conservation point of view.
  • The lone mature tree was located at the Koonayil Ayiravilli Siva Temple at Paravur, Kollam. Locally, it was erroneously believed to be the common Attilippa.
  • Since the species is represented only by one specimen in a single locality, it is eligible to be categorised ‘Critically Endangered’ by the IUCN.


Now, an alternative to the depleting drug Sarpagandha

Context: A team of researchers from the Centre for Medicinal Plants Research (CMPR) at the Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal, has discovered a viable alternative for a depleting drug widely used for treatment of high blood pressure in Ayurveda.

Rauvolfia serpentina or Indian snakeroot

  • The alternative for the famous drug Sarpagandha was found in a study that lasted several years.
  • Sarpagandha is taken from the root of a plant named Rauvolfia serpentina or Indian snakeroot, and is a vital drug in Ayurveda used for high blood pressure, asthma, and insomnia.
  • It is a critically endangered species belonging to the family Apocynaceae.
  • The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests has red-listed this plant following its overexploitation.
  • The root of Rauvolfia tetraphylla, a plant belonging to the genus Rauvolfia, shared the same biological properties of Rauvolfia serpentina.
  • The validating similarity between these plants, suggest Rauvolfia tetraphylla as a viable alternative to Sarpagandha,”.