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Daily News Analysis

New species of Echinops found in Sahyadri mountains

28th October, 2020 Biodiversity

Context: The new species was discovered while the botanists were working on a project called “Assessing the endemic biodiversity of high elevational plateaus of northern western ghats”. 

  • It is a genus of about 130 species of flowering plants and unique because of the size of its composite inflorescence

Echinops Sahyadricus (English Common Name — Sahyadri Globe Thistle)

  • Discovered from the Rajgad Fort in the Sahyadri mountains.
  • Echinops is a genus of about 130 species of flowering plants found in tropical and north Africa, the Mediterranean basin and West Asia, extending eastwards to China and Japan.
  • The highest number of taxa (76) are concentrated in the Iranian plateau.
  • Five species are found in India including two in Maharashtra.
  • “The new species is unique because of the size of its composite inflorescence which measures up to 9 cm in diameter that is relatively large compared to other Echinops species found around the world,”
  • The species is endemic to Western Maharashtra and found only on a few open hilltops in the northern western ghats.
  • It is named after the Sahyadri mountains.
  • The new species is close to other Indian species called Echinops echinatus AKA Indian Globe thistle and one European species called Echinops sphaerocephalus.
  • But it differs in size of inflorescence, types of whorls of spine-like Bracts around the floret and type of leaves surface.
  • “In India, Echinops is represented by five taxa out of which three, E. cornigerus DC, E. niveus Wall and E. prionolepis Bornm & Mattf are restricted to the Himalayas and neighbouring areas,”
  • It grows vegetatively on open grassy slopes of mountains in four months of monsoon and blooms in November. Fruiting can be seen in December.
  • The researchers said projects like road widening in the ghats and construction activities on forts could affect populations of this species and this should be protected at all costs.