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RESEARCH

Since its inception, the NGCPR Research Team has made many impressive research contributions.

CONSERVATION

NGCPR has pioneered plant conservation studies in Maharashtra State and has conducted conservation studies on two globally endangered plant species. Research studies on Frerea indica Dalzell (Apocynaceae s.l.) and Abutilon randei Wood. & Stapf. (Malvaceae) could demonstrate low cost and easy techniques for multiplication and has thrown light on causes and rarity of species in the wilderness.

Identification of threatened medicinal plants through a quantitative technique known as Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) for Maharashtra State was the first of its kind and paved way for others to follow and prioritize medicinal plant conservation research. The Centre organized this exercise in collaboration with Department of Botany, University of Pune. Out of 183 species of medicinal plants considered for the CAMP exercise, 26 species belonging to 23 genera and 18 families were considered threatened in the wild, and each species was assigned a threat status.



Endemic Plants of India (A Status report of Maharashtra State): The study was aimed to understand the patterns of flowering plants with a special reference to distribution, adaptations, local biodiversity hot spots etc. The study contributed enumeration of 687 endemic plant species with their habit, phenology and appropriate distribution in Maharashtra. A status report of 87 pages has been published by the NGCPR.


Mangroves of Thane Creek: A status report on species diversity in relation to Conservation and Documentation

MEDICINAL PLANT STUDIES

  • Nothapodytes nimmoniana (Grah.) Mabb. – A Case study of medicinal plant trade in India.
  • Grading & Trading patterns of Terminalia chebula Retz (Haritaki) nuts in the Maharashtra state.
  • Study, Propagation and utilization of local Medicinal plants with antidiarrhoeal activity in the Parinche Valley (in Maharashtra) – the provision of a model.
  • Preparation of a detailed checklist of plants used in antimycobacterial or antitubercular activity.

PLANT SYSTEMATICS AND
DIVERSITY DOCUMENTATION

  • Haritarium – Preparation of a digitalized mega plant taxonnomic data base
  • Discovery of one new taxa and one infra specific taxa viz. Brachystelma naorojii Tetali et al. (1998) and Arisaema murrayi var. soonubeniae Tetali et al. (2004)
  • Documentation of vulnerable hydrogeomorphic habitats to endemic plant diversity on the Kaas Plateau, Western Ghats.
  • Molecular systematics Phylogeny & Ecology of Ceropegia L. in India
  • Systematics and biogeography of the genus Ledebouria Roth (Asparagaceae: Scilloideae) in India
  • Taxonomic revision and ex-situ preservation of the genus Salacia L. in India
  • Datura species source material for tropane-alkaloids: a case study on trade and quality evaluation for India

NEW TAXA AND INFRA-SPECIFIC TAXA DESCRIBED FROM THE CENTRE

Brachystelma naorojii P. Tetali, D.K. Kulk., S. Tetali & M.S. Kumbhojkar. Rheedea 8(1): 75 (1998)

Brachystelma naorojii belongs to the Milk weed family, scientifically known as Apocynaceae. Brachystelmas are characterized by opposite narrow or minute leaves, elongated stem and star shaped flowers. The Corolla are many species is united at the top to restrict pollinators. Brachystelmas are generally found in low rainfall regions with prolonged dry spells. B. naorojii was discovered in the year 1998 from a desolated hill slope of Gavadewadi village near Shirwal, in the Satara distirict of Maharashtra state. It is a tuberous herb which locals call “Hanuman Batata” because of its large edible tubers. The species are named after late Mr. Naoroji Godrej to commemorate his keen interest in biodiversity conservation.


B. naorojii, a delicate herb with brick red flowers, blooms in the month of April or May, generally after the hill slopes are burnt by locals. Flowering and fruiting is completed during summer. Small flies initiate pollination and long hairy seeds are dispersed through the wind. This process facilitates the seeds to germinate in the rainy season itself. Leaves appear after flowering and the plant completes its life cycle before the monsoon. Tubers remain dormant for the remainder of the year. Raw tubers look like potatoes and taste like sweet potatoes. Being a good source of carbohydrates, cowherds, while grazing their cattle, enjoy eating raw tubers. As a result, populations of this rare species are dwindling fast. This plant is now conserved at The Naoroji Godrej Centre for Plant Research.

Arisaema murrayi var. soonubeniae P.Tetali, Punekar & Lakshmin. Kew Bulletin 59: 483. 2004.

Arisaema murrayi var. soonubeniae belongs to a group of interesting aroids popularly known as Cobra lilies. They are attractive and colourful and valued in the ornamental and floriculture business because of their unique snakehood-like inflorescence. This unique plant was discovered in the year 2004 from a remote hill slope in the Junnar taluka of the northern Western Ghats and named in the honour of late Mrs. Soonuben Naoroji Godrej, who was a Promoter and first Director of The Naoroji Godrej Centre for Plant Research along with Mr. Vijay Crishna.


Variety Soonubeniae is a small tuberous herb with palm shaped (pedate) leaves. The inflorescence is covered with a pseudo petal known as spathe. The spathe tube is bright purple in the upper half and green below which protects a rat tail like structure that protrudes outside, known as spadix. The spadix is the place where male and female flowers are born. Fruits are scarlet coloured and are favourite food of bulbuls and other small birds. Seeds are dispersed by birds. This wild edible plant is locally known as Patari and its leaves which are collected regularly during the rainy season tastes delicious when cooked.


The species are very adaptive and evolved to survive prolonged dry periods. It is visible only during monsoon season while its vegetative parts die and tubers sleep (dormancy) under soil during the rest of the year. The Naoroji Godrej Centre for Plant Research is engaged in conservation and multiplication studies.

Commelina badamica Nandikar & Gurav Telopea 18: 513-518. 2015

This new species belongs to the ornamental family called the dayflower family or spiderworts or Commelinaceae. The species were firstly collected in the year 2010 from Badami, Karnataka. After continuous ecological and population studies in 2015 it has been published in the journal Telopea. An annual herb, with tiny beautiful blue flowers, endemic to Karnataka and known only from sandstone plateaus in the Bagalkot district. The species epithet 'badamica' is drawn from its type locality Badami, one of the tourist destinations in Karnataka, famous for its temples, sculptures and caves.


CONSERVATION OF SACRED GROVES

To conserve and revitalize groves of Parinche valley, Pune District floristic survey, documentation of ecological, cultural and historical aspects have been studied by the Centre. A total of 14 sacred groves were identified from the Parinche valley, plants which have been commonly used in cultural activities, and which have economic potential have also been shortlisted along with endemic and threatened species.

DEVELOPMENT OF AN ECO (IDEAL) VILLAGE

NGCPR has recently taken up a challenging task of eco-restoration and forest regeneration study to develop a scientific model in a land of 125 hectares belonging to Forest Department at Palshi and Mirje villages of Satara district. The primary goal is to create a micro climate to raise ground water levels in the region. NGCPR’s teams will document biodiversity and identify wild life habitats for conservation. Simultaneously, NGCPR’s efforts in this direction would lead to prepare a forest manual that can be useful for Non-Government Organizations to replicate Afforestation activities. The uniqueness of this programme is that local, endemic species of plants have been planted instead of invasive foreign plant species. It is a collaborative project with Forest Department, Maharashtra, and Maharashtra Vrikshasanvardhini, NGO, Pune. Initiated in the year 2012, the Centre has planted around 1,29,924 trees till date.