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| Last Updated:06/02/2020

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New mangrove species found in Sunderbans

KOLKATA: A new mangrove species has been discovered at the Sunderbans after 54 years. 

Acanthus Albus, a sprawling under-shrub up to 1.5 m long, was found by an NGO last July. It has been confirmed as a new mangrove variety by the Botanical Survey of India and the Indian Journal of Forestry. 

A sub-species of Acanthus, the mangrove was chanced upon by workers of Nature, Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS). The team was involved in an afforestation drive along a new embankment at the Sunderbans when the white mangrove similar to Acanthus was discovered by them. 

"Initially, we thought it to be an 
albino variety of the original acanthus. But it was smaller and looked a tad different. We collected a sample and sent it to the Botanical Survey, which later confirmed it to be a new variety. The Indian Journal of Forestry has published a paper to assure people of the fact," said Biswajit Roy Chowdhury, secretary of NEWS. 

Sunderbans has 64 species of mangroves, which are divided into three categories — true mangrove, back mangrove and associate mangrove.
Acanthus Albus falls in the true mangrove category. 

It has a cylindrical stem that is woody, glabrous and longitudinally grooved and light green in colour. The leaves are narrow at the base and have 4-5 pairs of sharp teeth at the margin. 

"This is an important find. It proves that there are many other things to be discovered at the Sunderbans. The last variety of mangrove was discovered more than 50 years ago. There could be more waiting to be unearthed," said HS Debnath, joint director and head of Botanic Garden. 

The employees of NEWS were engaged in planting mangroves across 6,000 hectares along the new embankment of the Sunderbans when the new species drew their attention. 

"This new species is good news for the survival of mangroves in the Sunderbans," said Roy Chowdhury. 

The Times of India (06-12-2013)