BSI scientists discover new species of ginger in isles

Port Blair
10 Jan 2017
Scientists of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI), Regional Centre here has discovered a new species of ginger in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. According to information, the species, Zingiber pseudosquarrosum, new to science, belonging to genus Zingiber, has been used by the PVTGs (Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups) of  these islands for years owing to its medicinal values.
After collecting and systematically analysing the species found in the North and Middle Andaman region, scientists have found that the new species indeed possesses ethno-medicinal uses. “The fresh extract of fleshy tuberous roots is used to treat abdominal pain and anti-helminthic troubles by Nicobarese and certain other tribal communities. The pseudo stem of the new species is predominantly red in colour. Flowers have a vermilion tinge and fully mature fruits are lotus shaped. Inflorescence buds are urceolate in shape. The species has got tuberous root and the morphological features of the species makes it distinct from other species belonging to the genus Zingiber,” according to BSI.
In a study published in the Nordic Journal of Botany authored by Dr. Lal Ji Singh and Director of BSI, Dr. Paramjit Singh, researchers said that the species can be distinguished by the presence of a small red coloured  pseudostem, urceolate or prolate inflorescence bud, very long underground peduncle; orange red (vermillion) lotus shaped dehisced fruit, red coloured seeds covered by a white aromatic aril.  Like other Zingiber species may also have medicinal potential, Indian taxonomist Dr. Singh said. “Zingibers have been found beneficial as a drug/remedy for various health problems. The discovery of new species can open new avenues for research and enhance availability of potential,” says Dr Singh.
Species belonging to genre Zingiber are monocotyledonous flowering plants whose rhizomes are widely used as a spice or a traditional medicine. Commonly used species of Zingiber (Zingiber officinale) known for its aromatic smell is cultivated widely across India. As per scientific information, there are 141 species of genus Zingiber are distributed throughout tropical Asia, including China, Japan and tropical Australia. Of these, 20 are reported from India, which include seven (latest being Zingiber pseudosquarrosum) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands.