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The New Beans: New Species of Coffee Family Discovered

A team of researchers from India and the Philippines discovered Pyrostria laljii, a 15-metre-tall tree that belongs to the genus of the coffee family in the Andaman Islands.

About Pyrostria laljii:

  • Pyrostria laljii is a 15-meter-tall tree that belongs to the genus of the coffee family. It is the first species of the genus Pyrostria in India.
  • The genus Pyrostria plants are usually found in Madagascar.
  • Features: The tree is distinguished by a long stem with a whitish coating on the trunk. It has oblong-ovate leaves with a cuneate base.
  • Another physical feature that distinguishes the tree from other species of the genus is its umbellate inflorescence with eight to 12 flowers.

The new species, Pyrostria laljii , is also the first record of the genus Pyrostria in India, the researchers said. The recently discovered species are new to science.

It was first reported from the Wandoor forest in South Andaman. The other places in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands where the tree could be located are the Tirur forest near the Jarawa Rerserve Forest and the Chidia Tapu (Munda Pahar) forest.

The trees from the genus Pyrostria are usually not found in India. But there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India. These plants include cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, Ixora, gallium, gardenia, mussaenda, Rubia, morinda. These trees have a high economic value.

 Pyrostria laljii has been assessed as ‘Critically Endangered’ based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List criteria. The species has been named Pyrostria laljii after Lal Ji Singh, Joint Director and Head of Office, Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre, Botanical Survey of India.

 M.C. Naik from the Botanical Survey of India, M. Bheemalingappa from the Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapuram, and Axel H. Arriola from University of the East, Manila, Philippines, published the details of the discovery a few months ago in an international, peer-reviewed journal Annales Botanici Fennici. Mr Naik mentioning that the discovery was unique as the species was a big tree and had not been recorded as a new species yet. “While the genus Pyrostria is not found in India, there are several genera from the family Rubiaceae that are common in India. These plants, including cinchona, coffee, adina, hamelia, Ixora, galium, gardenia, mussaenda, rubia, morinda, have a high potential for economic value. More studies should be carried out to ascertain whether Pyrostria laljii could have some economic value,” Dr Singh said, according to The Hindu.

 Dr Singh and Mr Naik have also discovered a new species of pokeweed named Rivina andamanensis . They said it was spotted growing under large trees, shaded and rocky areas, along with herbs and shrubby plants. “This discovery of new species, representing the first record of the pokeweed family Petiveriaceae in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, adds one more family to the islands’ flora,” the researchers said.

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