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New species of seasonal flower called Iris found in Manipur

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A new species of popular seasonal flower is fond in Manipur which is annually offered during the Manipuri new year-Cheiraoba in April, the flower is India’s newest Iris flower species said the Principal scientist, Dr Huidrom Birkumar of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-North East institute of Science and Technology (NEIST), Imphal unit on Monday.

The flower is known as Kombirei in the local tongue. This mauve-blue flower, Iris Laevigata Fisch found in the marsh areas of Manipur, particularly in Lamphelpat and Yaralpat wetlands on the outskirts of Imphal town has a flowering period of about 15 days in the first half of April every year.

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“Earlier people used to name said flower wrongly as Iris Bakeri wall. But London-based Royal Botanic Gardens (RBG), Kew confirmed the new species (as Iris Laevigata Fisch) only on April 19,” said Dr Birkumar, who is head of Manipur unit of CSIR-NEIST. “The plant has been grown in Japan for more than a thousand years and it was also reported in Russia and South East Asian region.”

Dr Birkumar who had been studying the flower since 2000 sent a report to RBG, Kew with relevant pictures following a media report that the flower which has rich sentimental associations with the Manipuris, was vanishing from the original habitat, to identify and name the flower on April 13. London-based RBG, Kew is an international authority on botanical research and education which has a collection of over 40,000 species of plants.

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The scientist who had written a book on economic botany besides publishing 35 research papers also informed that four species of Iris were reported in Manipur out of the country’s 17 species as per Botanical Survey of India reports.

However, this beautiful flower which has very close connection with the tradition of Manipuris since long ago is facing a great threat due to lack of attention. Though the biology of the plant is yet to be studied thoroughly, experts felt that the plant would be among the critically endangered category.
Presence of whitish colour and heights are the

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