Two new species of a plant group known for their varied medicinal properties have been discovered in the Western Ghats – one of the thirty-five hot-spots of biological diversity in the world. The plant group known as pipeworts (Eriocaulon), which completes their life cycle within a small period during monsoon, exhibits great diversity in the Western Ghats, having around 111 species in India.
Most of these are reported from the Western Ghats and Eastern Himalayas, and around 70% of them are endemic to the country. One species, Eriocaulon cinereum, is well known for its anti-cancerous, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. E. quinquangulare is used against liver diseases. E. madayiparense is an anti-bacterial from Kerala. The medicinal properties of the newly discovered species are yet to be explored.
Scientists from Agharkar Research Institute (ARI), Pune, have found two new species of pipeworts in Maharashtra and Karnataka. They found the new species while exploring the biodiversity of the Western Ghats. They wanted to trace the evolutionary history of the genus Eriocaulon and made extensive efforts to collect as many species as possible from India, especially from the Western Ghats.