Bangladesh has added 4 new species of plants to the World Botanical Museum
By Amila khan
Bangladesh has added four new species of plants to the World Botanical Museum. Two of these four new species of plants were discovered in the Lauyachhara forest of Moulvibazar, one in Bandarban and the other in Sherpur forest. All the four plants are colocasia esculenta kind of plants. In the last four years, scientists in Bangladesh have discovered these four new plants.
With these four new plants, 150 new names have been added to the list of plant species in the country. In this case, 79 were found through direct surveys in the country. The names of the remaining 71 are found in the archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens in the United Kingdom, known as Q Herbarium.
Hosne Ara, former director of the Bangladesh National Herbarium, and Abul Hasan, Professor of Botany at the University of Dhaka, led the discovery of the four new plants. The results of their survey were published in 2018 in the Science Journal of the National Herbarium.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a global organization for the conservation of nature, there are about five million species of flowering plants in the world. Of these, Q herbarium has identified about 295,000 plants.
According to the Bangladesh National Herbarium, the state-owned plant conservation agency, there were 3,840 plant species in the country till 2019. However, 10 more plant species were later discovered.
Scientists say that Bangladesh’s plant diversity is very rich due to its geographical features and climate. Sardar Nasir Uddin, chief scientific officer of the National Herbarium and head of the survey team for discovering new plants, said very few countries in the world have so many species of trees in so few places.
Due to this, the terrain of Bangladesh is closely associated with sedimentary plains, freshwater streams, sea and coastal areas and hilly areas. As a result, various types of plants grow here.
One of the four new plants is named Alocasia haraganesis. It is found in the Haraganj reserve forest of Lauyachhara in Moulvibazar. That is why the plant is named after that forest.
However, researchers have also found this plant in the Rema-Kalenga forest of Habiganj. A few saplings of the plant were planted in the garden of the National Herbarium on the Dhaka Zoo Road. But did not live long.
The second newly discovered plant is named Alocasia salarkhani.
It is also found in the Lauyachhara forest of Moulvibazar. The plant is named after Professor Mohammad Salar Khan, who is known as the father of the study of plant classification in Bangladesh. This scientist from Bangladesh died in 1997.
The third plant is named Typhonium ilatum. It has been collected from the forest of Sherpur district, and Scientists have named the fourth plant Colocasia hasani. It is named after Abul Hasan, a senior professor in the Department of Botany at University of Dhaka, who is one of the members of the research team that discovered the plant. It is locally called Tita Kachu.
The plant is collected from the forest of Bandarban district. However, this species has been found in Khagrachhari and Rangamati. The four newly discovered colocasia esculenta species are not taken as food locally.
Professor Abul Hasan of the Department of Botany, University of Dhaka, said that there are many plants in the rivers and seas besides the forest lands of the country.
There was no good conducting survey. As a result, the actual number of plant species in the country is still unknown.
By collecting plant species from different countries, the British built a huge collection. The country’s botanists say the Q Herbarium in the United Kingdom has 25,000 species of trees collected from India. Of these, 7,000 species of trees have gone from Bangladesh.
Scientists at the Bangladesh National Herbarium have been able to test a portion of the plants collected from Bangladesh at the Q Herbarium. Of these, they found 71 plants; none of the information has found in any previous survey or research in the country. These plants have scientific names.
However, no local or Bengali name was given. Whether this plant exists in Bangladesh at all or has become extinct, that survey has not yet taken place. Scientists believe that a full search of the UK’s archives could reveal hundreds of more species.
On the other hand, the research team of the National Herbarium surveyed the country and found 79 species, which belong to 18 plant families.
Seventy-five species of these plants are found in the three hill districts of the country — Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari, and Chittagong Chattagram and Cox’s Bazar. More (8) species have been found in the Acanthaceae or Basak family.
It is known as a medicinal tree. After that, there are the Euphorbiasis species. Six species of this family have been found.
Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangladesh, said, “The Lauyachhara forest in Moulvibazar is already identified as a protected forest. We preserve the plants and animals there. Initiatives will be taken to conserve the new species of plants found in the country by identifying their areas.”
There may be 5000 species.
Salar Khan, the founder of the National Herbarium, estimated that there could be at least 5,000 species of plants in Bangladesh.
However, he could not go into detail.
The Flora of Bangladesh or the Botanical Book of Bangladesh, published in 2009 by the Bangladesh Asiatic Society, listed 3,611 plants.
According to the National Herbarium, there were 3,830 plant species in Bangladesh till 2019. This year, two more species of plants have been discovered under the leadership of Professor Mohammad Jasim Uddin of the Department of Botany, University of Dhaka. Apart from this, scientists in Bangladesh have discovered at least eight species of plants. As such, there will be 3,840 plant species in the country at present.
Professor Jasim Uddin said that the five thousand species of plants mentioned by Salar Khan could be found by doing a detailed survey.
Intensive surveys should be conducted especially in the northern part of Sylhet, Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Sundarbans. Besides, in order for these plants to survive, it is important to preserve the ecosystem.