Endangered ‘Dancing girl’ Plant found in Mizoram

Aizawl, 6 June: The Mantisia Spathulata plant, also known as the “Dancing Girl” was spotted at a lower altitude of 662 metres at Kolasib in Mizoram. This was observed by scientists at the Assam University, Silchar as a first as this species was earlier typically found only in the rocky hills of Lunglei in Mizoram at an altitude of 1,200 – 1,500 metres.

The finding was reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa. In the article titled “New locality records of the Dancing Girl of Mizoram, a rare zinger species” written by by Aparajita De and Demsai Reang of ecology and environmental science department, Assam University, it is said that the species has become endangered due to several natural calamities. Thus, it is included in the national priority list for recovery published by the department of biotechnology, New Delhi, under the ministry of science and technology.

Aparajita explained the unique common name of the flower “Dancing Girl” was given because looking at a single flower carefully, we can see that the yellow corolla looks like a skirt and the two staminodes resemble the two outstretched arms of a dancing girl.
The other special features of the species includes the fact that it grows in bare rocky areas and it is not found in dense patches because it requires optimum amount of sunlight and shade to flourish.

These features were not found in the Kolasib flowers though. “We collected the species at a comparatively lower altitude – approximately 662 metres from Kolasib – which was never recorded earlier. The current study deals with the information of a new site discovered for Mantisia spathulata and its population density,” Aparajita added.

The species was growing only in a single large patch, along with other species. The size of the patch where the plants were found was approximately 30 metres in length and to 6.5 to 7 metres wide, though the plants were healthy and were regenerating very well. The study also asked for steps to be taken for its preservation. Their recommendations and suggestions included methods of conservation to be the restoration of the patch of land so that further habitat degradation is checked. In the future, the species may be grown under ex-situ conditions and reintroduced into other suitable habitats.
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