Climate change extinguishes flame lily in K’taka

The flame lily

The future is not looking upbeat for flame lily — a climbing ornamental plant known for its bright, beautiful flowers and found in tropical places.

The plant (botanical name Gloriosa superba) — which is the state flower of Tamil Nadu and a money-spinner for farmers — has slipped into the endangered category in Karnataka, thanks to climate change.

The Karnataka State Action Plan on Climate Change prepared by Environmental Management and Policy Research Institute and The Energy and Resources Institute identified the flowering plant as the most threatened and endangered species in the state.

According to experts and conservationists, drastic temperature fluctuation and natural calamities are having a negative effect on the flowering cycle of the plant. Farmers in the state do not prefer to grow the crop as it is slow to propagate, with each split tuber producing only one extra plant in a year’s time.

“The change in temperature frequently changes the flowering cycle of plants. This, in turn, affects pollination,” said Ritu Kakkar, IFS Director General, EMPRI.

“If the plants do not produce flowers during the flowering season, exactly when butterflies and insects come out for pollination, it naturally reduces the number of plants over time. And the natural calamities, forest fires add on to the fury.”

Other medicinal plants like Rauvolfia serpentina (devil pepper) and Saraco asoca (ashoka tree) - including orchids in the Western Ghats of Kodagu, Bababudan in Chikkamagalur and Dandeli in Uttara Kannada - are also in the list of threatened and endangered species.

According to the report, 38% of forest area is projected to be impacted by climate change by 2030, with coastal regions and Western Ghats being moderately vulnerable to climate change.

As many as 18 out of 54 forest grids of the Western Ghats are projected to undergo changes by 2030. In the coastal region, 30% of the 96 grids (excluding the Western Ghats) are expected to experience change.

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