This flowering shrub is found only in one place in the world — the valleys and hills of Patwadangar village near Nainital.
“Only 200 plants of Patwa (Meizotropis pellita), now survive in the village,” Lalit Tiwari, reader in the Botany department of the Kumaon University told Hindustan Times. “Patwadangar village derives its name from this plant.”
Tiwari predicts that the shrub will be extinct within the next 15-20 years without help from conservationists. It was discovered in 1925 when a British botanical expert reported its existence after a visit to the village.
“The expert’s records say that Patwa existed in the Kali Kumaon and Dhoti district of Nepal as well,” said Dr Tiwari. “However, the species couldn’t be traced in those regions.”
It shoots up to six feet and flowers with bright, red petals only in May and June.
“In due course, these petals acquire an orange hue at the base. That adds to the beauty of the flowers,” gushed Tiwari.
Deforestation and forest fires have pushed it to the brink of extinction. Tiwari suggested that its seeds be sown in the entire Patwadangar area and places other than its known habitat.
Tiwari and colleagues have recently submitted a conservation proposal to the State government to use biotechnology to save the shrub.