In news- Researchers have identified three new species of wild balsam in Kerala.
- The species, belonging to the genus Impatiens (family Balsaminaceae), were spotted in the Western Ghats region of southern Kerala and the Idukki district.
- Plants of this genus are popular as ‘Kasithumba‘ or ‘Sheema Thumba’ in Malayalam.
- A plant with whitish-creamy flowers found in the Kallar forest, Thiruvananthapuram district, has been named Impatiens achudanandanii after former Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
- Found at an altitude of 1200 metres, it is a straggling, glabrous herb that faces threats from wild elephants and landslides.
- A discovery from the Sankhili forest in south Kerala, is named Impatiens shailajae, honouring former health minister K.K. Shailaja.
- It is a 10-20 cm tall plant with a white flower which sports a yellow blotch on the throat.
- Impatiens danii, spotted in Munnar, Idukki, is named after Mathew Dan, scientist and head, Plant Genetic Resource Division, Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI), Thiruvananthapuram.
- Due to their tiny populations, all three species can be classified as Critically Endangered (CE), applying the IUCN criteria.
- The genus Impatiens is represented by more than 210 taxa in India and over 106 species are endemic to the Western Ghats, of which 80% are endangered.