Cycads, believed to be the oldest living seed plant, are on the brink of extinction, experts from the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Lucknow – National Botanical Research Institute (CSIR-NBRI) have said. The institute is working to ensure their survival through artificial reproduction, they said.
“Cycads have undergone enormous transformations throughout their history and humans may be the only ones who can save them. They are on the verge of extinction, so we are working on artificial reproduction to keep them alive. before they are gone,” said SK Barik, Director, CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow.
The NBRI boasts of an extensive collection of Cycads.
“We have the most extensive collection of cycads in South Asia and rank ninth in the world with 71 species,” he said.
“Cycads are mainly seen in gardens and parks to enhance their aesthetics, but few people know that they date back to the age of the dinosaurs. They have been around for a long time and are among the oldest living fossils,” Barik said. .
“Despite surviving three mass extinctions, many cycad species are now in danger of human extinction. They are the oldest living seed plants and the most endangered group of organisms on earth, with nearly 64% being on the brink of extinction. They evolved in the late Carboniferous or early Permian around 300 million years ago and then became abundant in the Jurassic,” said Dr KJ Singh, Principal Scientist, CSIR-NBRI, Lucknow, who performs extensive research on the rare plant to save it. of extinction.
He said four species of cycads are now extinct, including Encephalartos Woodii, Brevifoliolatus, Nubimontanus and Relictus, which can now only be found in botanical gardens.
“Cycads are one of the most widely used plants in offices, hotels and parks for beautification. It has a multi-million dollar commercial market worldwide. Most of the demand is met by l “import from Japan. If we can increase the number of Indian species in the market, we would be able to market them as well,” Singh added.
It is advisable to leave these plants alone in their natural habitat and not to tear them from nature. Massive and illegal logging in the wild must be discouraged to protect them, Barik said.