HYDERABAD: Eminent botanists of University Sindh (SU) Prof. Dr. Muhammad Tahir Rajput and Dr. Syeda Saleha Hassney have discovered new species of “salvadora” in Sindh.
According to a University spokesman, the new species has been named “Salvadora alii” after a world renowned taxonomist Prof. Dr. Syed Irtifaq Ali, a former vice chancellor of University of Karachi, for his enormous contribution in the field of Botany.
Dr Ali is currently the director of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan Institute of Biology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE) at Karachi University.
The botanists of the University of Sindh said that the discovered species was misidentified as “salvadora persica” by earlier workers but their new research based on micro-morphological studies of seed, pollen grain and fruit characters clearly indicates that this new species is quite different from already discovered species of Salvadora.
The species was discovered from calcareous rocks of Jamshoro. For this discovery, a large number of living plants and herbarium specimen were examined by botanist and Dean Faculty of Natural Sciences Dr. Muhammad Tahir Rajput and Professor of Botany and former director Institute of Plant Sciences University of Sindh Dr. Syeda Saleha Hasney, during last five years’ period.
Dr. Rajput while highlighting the discovery of new species said that in Pakistan, three species of Salvadora are found which are commonly called Peelu.
The new species taxonimcally belongs to class Angiospermae and family Salvadoraceae which commonly grow in graveyards, deserted areas and also saline wasteland throughout middle and lower Sindh, he said.
Highlighting the economic impact of discovered species of Salvadora, Dr. Rajput said that the bark and root of this plant has both antibiotic and antiseptic properties. The root and young stem are used as miswak (crude medicated tooth brush), he added.
He said that because of its medicinal value, particularly stem and roots’ use as Miswak is very popular. Due to this reason people have started business of selling “miswak” to Arab countries particularly Saudi Arabia and are earning significant foreign exchange.
He further said that the young branches and leaves of Salvadora are used as camel fodder. Also, its wood is used as fuel. The fruit of Salvadora species is eaten in rural areas andthe juice of its stem and roots are used in making tooth paste, he added.
The scholar expressed worry about the extinction of Salvadora from Pakistan because of its medicinal value as the natural plants are being chopped at an alarming rate for their young stems and roots which are shipped to other countries for use.
He called upon the government to take measures to save and conserve this natural plant wealth.
He suggested that the government can earn foreign exchange export of this plant with its appropriate promotion. – APP