A&N Islands is a treasure trove of unique plant species, says local Head

BSI discovers new species of banana in isles
Report by: 
Port Blair
8 Nov 2017

Andaman and Nicobar Islands possess a distinct identity, not only because of its geography, history and culture but also because of the unique and richest biodiversity of its natural ecosystems and constitute one of the hotspots of biodiversity with 572 Islands. The Nicobar groups of Islands are separated from Andaman group by 10° channels with heavy tidal flows making sea difficult for transportation.
A & N islands keeps reminding us that there are many incredible, remote and unexplored areas, leading to new discoveries every year and it is crucial that we protect them before they are lost.  Earlier unique species of banana have been discovered from remote tropical rain forest of Little Andaman Island which was discovered by Indian Scientist, Dr. Lal Ji Singh from Botanical Survey of India and named as Musa indandamanensis which is unique from other known banana species by the presence of dark green, cylindrical flower bud and fruit with orange pulp and angled seeds. This species named in honour of country and type locality jointly.
More recently during extensive and a systematic  floristic explorations in the forested areas of Krishnapuri, North Andaman, that same Scientist from BSI, Dr.  Singh, laid his eyes on discovery of an interesting banana species which is named in honour of Indian Taxonomist Dr. Paramjit Singh for his significant contributions to the taxonomy of flowering plants as Musa paramjitiana. This new taxon is remarkably distinct from other known banana species with grey green lanceolate floral bud, sour- sweet and boat-shape fruits with fig or bulb shape black seeds.
Dr. Singh published this new species in an esteemed international journal: Nordic Journal of Botany 35(1), 2017. Approximate 70 species are reported to occur wild in the world reported to occur wild in the world.  This discovery takes the number of wild banana species found in the country to approximate 15 and in these Islands to 07, of which 4 species are endemic to islands.
Dr. Singh, who is behind the discoveries stated that wild banana have been found beneficial as a drug/remedy for various health problems. Powder of dried basal portion of floral bud and seeds of wild banana are used to cure jaundice, blood pressure respectively by tribals especially Ranchi settler where it naturally occurs in these islands. Pseudo-stem and Leaves of these species are also used during auspicious, religious and cultural ceremonies along with other local palm leaves.  Dr. Singh also stated that the germ plasm of all wild bananas needs to be conserved and it is significant in terms of crop improvement. These new species might be a choice of genetic base for plant breeders to develop high yielding, disease resistant variety of parthenocarpic edible banana.