NEW DELHI: The Botanical Survey of India (BSI), the country's apex taxonomic research organisation, had last year discovered 267 plant species. Of these 202 plant species are new to science while 65 others had never been reported from India.
The BSI’s Plant Discoveries 2020, released by environment ministry on Monday, shows the new discoveries to the flora of India include 119 species of seed plants, 57 species of fungi, 44 species of lichens, 21 species of algae, 18 species of microbes, five species of bryophytes and three species of fern and fern allies.
The BSI every year compiles and documents new plant discoveries, playing a central role to fulfil India’s global commitment of comprehensive documentation and identification of plant diversity of the country. India is a signatory to the ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’ (CBD) and is committed to work towards a global strategy of plant conservation.
India has about 45,000 species of plants, already identified and classified, which account for about 7% of the total plant species of the world. About 28% of the Indian plants are endemic to the country.
According to BSI, the Indian flora is mainly concentrated in three major centres of floristic diversity viz., the Himalayas, the Western Ghats and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, which are part of four of the 34 identified 'global biodiversity hotspots'.
Officials in the environment ministry believe that the Covid-19-linked lockdown and the overall pandemic situation had restricted field trips of scientists and therefore the number of plant discoveries was comparatively less in 2020 compared to previous year when around 350 species were discovered and documented.