The ever continuing effort of M S Swaminathan Botanic Garden, Wayanad in revealing the endless floristic diversity of Wayanad district, Kerala again hits. In a recent plant exploration at ‘Kattimattom Cholavanam’ of the district, Mr. Pitchen M. Salim, the amateur botanist and environmentalist working at the Foundation has discovered a new species of Sonerila (Family Melastomataceae). Dr. Jose Mathew, S. D College, Alapuzha and Dr. Hrithik, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Thrissur were also in the team. The species is named as Sonerila sulpheyi in honour of the renowned Environmentalist, Professor M M Sulphey of Prince Sattam Bin Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia. The Scientific article came in the latest issue of the International Taxonomic Journal “Phytotaxa”.
The genus Sonerila (meaning ‘Swarnaila’-Golden leaf plant), is a group of highly ornamental herbs, with beautiful leaves and colorful flowers. Worldwide over 180 species are found. Western Ghats is the home for over 40 species. The new member Sonerila sulpheyi is a small tuberous herb growing on the rocks adjacent to the streams. Very few plants were so far found in Kattimattam, the type locality. The plant has a unique branched inflorescence with beautiful pink flowers.