Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania
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- A new plant species from Kutch, Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania, is discovered by team of researchers from Gujarat Ecological Education and Research, a Gujarat based institution.
- The discovery has been reported in an annual compendium ‘Plant Discoveries’, published by the Botanical Survey of India.
- This species was found earlier in different parts of the globe for instance Italy, Northern Africa, Palestine, Spain and Western Sahara etc.
- It is the first time this species has been found in India in rocky and pebbled hilly outcrops of Khadir and Bela island of Kutch, Gujarat.
- It is an autonomous body functioning with support from the Gujarat forest department.
- The institution was established in 1982 by the Forests & Environment Department, Government of Gujarat.
- It has been registered as a Society under the Indian Societies Registration Act, 1860, and as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act of 1950.
- The Foundation is governed by a Board of Governors chaired by the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Gujarat.
- Some of the objectives of this foundation are given below –
- To initiate and facilitate scientific research & studies for conservation of natural resources.
- To establish, manage and promote wilderness areas, museums, parks and other repositories of animals and plants, living or dead.
- To engage in breeding of endangered species of plants and animals and reintroduce these in the wild, if possible.
- To generate love for & promote knowledge of ecology, ecosystems, environment and natural history among public.
- To assist other institutions and individuals engaged in similar pursuits with information, advice and finance.
- Five other species of Salsola genus have been found in India which are-
- Salsola kali
- Salsola hatmanii
- Salsola monoptera
- Salsola baryosma (Caroxylon imbricatum) – discovered in the Kutch region
- Salsola glomerata (Halogeton glomeratus)
- In general the plant species of Salsola genus have salty juice stored in their leaves.
- Salsola oppositifolia is commonly known as morad.
- In the manufacturing of soda ash, morad is used as a raw material.
- Other Salsola species have pharmacological properties and are used in making lye and soaps.
- Some plant species of same family such as Salsola fruticosa are used as fodder for Indian Wild Ass.
Salsola oppositifolia Desfontania
- The shrub belongs to the family of Amaranthaceae and Salsola genus.
- It is a perennial, succulent shrub which grows in saline conditions.
- The arid to semi-arid region of the Kutch district seems favourable for the growth of this plant species.
- It can grow one to two metres tall and have a smooth, cylindrical, woody base.
- It does not have any hairs and prostrate rarely, which differentiates it from other species of Salsola.
- In this plant species, leaves grow opposite each other in the stem.
Significance of Discovery
- Better understanding of the rich biodiversity of the great Rann of Kutch.
- Ecological importance of this plant species will help in understanding the behaviour and other details of associated insects and migratory bird species.
A new plant species of oppositifolia Desfontania is recently discovered in India for the first time. Describe the features and significance of this plant species. Also highlight the usefulness of the other species of Salsola genus to humans. (150 words)