A budding botanist’s quest for plant-indigenous community relations

In 2019, budding ethnobotanist Momang Taram and her friend Ojar Taku were scouting the Siang river valley in Arunachal Pradesh for flowering plants belonging to a specific family.

“Then suddenly we both (Ojar Taku and I) observed some yellow flowers hanging far from the cliff in East Siang district. He scaled that cliff with great risk and somehow brought a single plant,” recounts Taram, a PhD student at the state’s Rajiv Gandhi University. At first sight, Taram said she knew the flower belonging to the genus Henckelia was a novelty, “because almost all the described Henckelia of this region are etched in my mind.”

Taram, is an Adi, a prominent indigenous community in the biodiversity-rich northeast India, and calls the Siang valley home. The “novelty” was named Cin honour of the place of description to prompt an emotional attachment with it.

“Naming the endemic species after the place will encourage the community to know more about the rich floral diversity of their locality, their importance, and they will try to conserve it, which has done the same magic for me too (in creating conservation awareness). So, far no traditional uses have been recorded for this particular species,” Taram told Mongabay-India.

Read more at The Wire (Sahana Ghosh)

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