In news- A new plant species belonging to the coffee family is spotted in the Vagamon hills in Kerala.
- It is a delicate herbaceous species from the family Rubiaceae.
- It has been named Argostemma quarantena to commemorate the millions who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic.
- It is a perennial herb which grows to a height of 3-7cm and is characterised by striking white flowers.
- It is very sensitive to microclimatic changes and is found in wet rocks in shaded, undisturbed habitats, notably along streams in evergreen forests.
- The new species sports similarities with two south Indian endemics, Argostemma anupama and Argostemma courtallense.
- However, it differs in attributes like the stem, leaves and stipules.
- As it is known only from its type locality at Vagamon, the species has been classified Data Deficient (DD) under IUCN standards as extensive field surveys are required to assign an appropriate category.
It is the fifth species discovered from Vagamon by research teams and the others include- Eriocaulon meenachilense, a new tuberous species and Litsea manilaliana, named after botanist K.S. Manilal.