New flowering plant species “Curcuma kakchingense” discovered in Manipur

Curcuma kakchingense
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A group of researchers from Manipur University along with Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt. Ltd. discovered a new plant species in the Kakching District of Manipur, India. The plant was found thriving well along the banks of Sekmai River.

The newly discovered plant species has been named “Curcuma kakchingense” in honor of its location. It is a flowering plant which grows up to a height of eight feet having large terminal inflorescence.

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Curcuma kakchingense is a member of the angiospermic family Zingiberaceae, which includes well-known plants like turmeric, gingers, and cardamom. It has subterranean growth habits and a bitter taste, resembling other Curcuma species.

The discovery was documented by Dr. L. Bidyaleima, Dr. Raj Kumar Kishor, and Prof. G. J. Sharma along with along with Kwaklei and Khonggunmelei Orchids Pvt. Ltd. in the Nordic Journal of Botany on October 11, 2023.

However, due to limited information about its distribution and the number of mature individuals, the species is classified as “Data Deficient” (DD) under the IUCN Red List category, and potential threats to its existence are not fully assessed yet.

Before this discovery, there were only 93 accepted Curcuma species globally, with the majority in Thailand and 42 in India. The last previously described Curcuma species in India was “Curcuma kshonapatra” in Karnataka in 2016, and “Curcuma rubrobracteata” in Mizoram in 2003.

The northeastern region of India, where this discovery was made, has been slow in cataloging its plant varieties, suggesting there may be many more undiscovered species at risk of extinction.

Curcuma plants are essential in cuisines, traditional medicines, spices, dyes, perfumes, cosmetics and as ornamental plants. Curcuma species contain curcumin and curcuminoids, which have numerous biological activities and are used in pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries.

The discovery of Curcuma kakchingense has the potential to lead to further research in phytochemistry, biological activities, and applications in the development of novel nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals.

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