In news-Recently, a plant discovered in Uttarakhand in 2019 has been newly confirmed as a new species of Allium genus similar to onion and garlic.
About Allium negianum
- Allium genus includes many staple foods such as onion and garlic, among 1,100 species worldwide.
- In 2019, Dr Anjula Pandey, Principal Scientist at ICAR-National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources in New Delhi, together with other scientists came across plants of this onion species, which they have named Allium negianum
- It grows in Malari region of Niti valley in Chamoli district and Dharma valley of Pithoragarh district, Uttarakhand, India.
- It grows at 3,000 to 4,800 m above sea level and can be found along open grassy meadows, sandy soils along rivers, and streams forming in snow pasture lands along alpine meadows, where the melting snow helps carry its seeds to more favourable areas.
- The new species is described in the journal PhytoKeys.
- The scientific name Allium negianum honours the late Dr Kuldeep Singh Negi, an explorer and Allium collector.
- Although new to science, this species has long been known under domestic cultivation to local communities.
- According to locals, the onion from Niti valley was particularly good, even deemed the best on the market.
- Allium is one of the largest genera in Amaryllidaceae, a family of herbaceous, mainly perennial and bulbous flowering plants.
- The genus has about 1,100 species distributed worldwide, including onion, garlic, scallion, shallot and chives.
- The primary center of evolution for the genus extends across the Irano-Turanian bio-geographical region, and the Mediterranean basin and western North America are considered as the secondary centers of diversity.
- The Indian Himalayan region has two distinct centers of Allium diversity, the western Himalaya (over 85% of total diversity) and the eastern Himalaya (6%), covering the alpine-sub temperate region.
- The newly-identified species, named Allium negianum, is restricted to the region of the western Himalaya.
- So far only known from the western Himalaya region, Allium negianum might be under pressure from people looking to taste it.
- The researchers fear that indiscriminate harvest of its leaves and bulbs for seasoning may pose a threat to its wild populations.