The rare Arisaema translucens, more commonly known as the cobra lily, was recently rediscovered in the western Nilgiris after 84 years.
The discovery was made by nature enthusiasts K M Prabhu Kumar and Tarun Chhabra.
News of the discovery was published in a journal on botanical taxonomy Phytotaxa in May 2017.
Only a few hundred cobra lily plants are left in the wild and they can be found only in a small area measuring less than 10 square kilometres in the Nilgiris.
Cobra lily: At the brink of extinction
• The plant features a distinctive translucent spathe. The species is probably the only member of the Arisaema family to have a translucent spathe.
• It was last collected by E. Barnes in 1932 and described by C.E.C Fischer in 1933.
• Prized for their beauty around the world, cobra lilies are at even greater risk of extinction from the commercial trade in exotic plants.
• Of the handful cobra lily species found in the Nilgiris, only two are endemic.
• Cobra lilies have vanished in the past decades along with the disappearance of the shola tree patches in which they were found.
• The rediscovery of the plant highlights the importance of preserving whatever is left of shola tree patches, even inside plantations and tea fields.
• Based on its tiny population and distribution, the Arisaema translucens could be considered ‘critically endangered.’