A Rare Palm from Andamans

Recently, a rare palm, Pinanga andamanensis, has been successfully cultivated at Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute (JNTBGRI) based at Palode, Thiruvananthapuram (Kerala).

Key Points:

  • Pinanga andamanensis:
    • It is a rare palm endemic to South Andaman Island. Its entire population of some 600 specimens naturally occurs only in a tiny, evergreen forest pocket in South Andaman’s Mount Harriet National Park.
      • Endemic species are those plants and animals that exist only in one geographical region.
    • The name is derived from ‘Penang’, the modern-day Malaysian state. Penang itself has its origins in Pulau Pinang which means Island of the Areca Nut Palm.
    • It has strong resemblance with the areca palm tree (widely used for bright interiors).
    • It has a small gene pool which means the species is vulnerable to natural calamities such as cyclones, earthquakes.
    • JNTBGRI scientists term it a critically endangered species and one of the least known among the endemic palms of the Andaman Islands.
  • Cultivation at JNTBGRI:
    • Thiruvananthapuram has been referred as its second home as the species has started flowering in this Institute.
    • JNTBGRI will resume seed germination experiments for mass multiplication as part of the conservation strategy.

Mount Harriet National Park

  • It is located in the south of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
  • Mount Harriet is the third-highest peak in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago next to Saddle Peak in North Andaman and Mount Thuillier in Great Nicobar.
  • The park is covered with evergreen forest pockets.
  • It is rich in flora and faunal species like andaman wild pigs, saltwater crocodiles, butterflies and palm trees.

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