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Cobra lily rediscovered in Nilgiris after 84 years

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.

May 25, 2017 15:05 IST
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Cobra LilyThe 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.

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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.’

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