Dr. Indira Balachandran whose name is a synonym in horticulture has been in news recently due to her discovery of a plant species named Hedyotis genus. As an honour to this horticulturist the name of the plant is now known as Hedyotis Indirae.

Dr. Indira Balachandran started her career in 1982 as Research Officer and In-charge of the Herbal Garden, a valuable ex-situ conservation site of medicinal plants of Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal. Her research is on Medicinal Plant Taxonomy dealing with the scientific identification, standardisation and conservation of medicinal plants used in Ayurveda and other traditional systems of medicine.

The studies on the said subject fetched her the Doctorate from University of Calicut in 1990. Her thesis titled “Ayurvedic Drugs and their Plant Sources” published by Oxford and IBH, New Delhi, in 1994 serves as a reference to Ayurvedic students, doctors and medicinal plant researchers around the world.

The scientists in the Plant Systematics Division of Centre for Medicinal Plant Research at Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal discovered the plant from the “Elivāl Hills” in Muthikkulam forest, Palakkad. A team led by Dr.K.M Prabhukumar, Senior Scientist of the division collected the plant in 2013 and later in 2016. The detailed literature of the taxonomic studies, types and expert comments confirm the novelty of the plant. The results of the research has been published in the International Scientific Journal, Webbia, Italy.

There are numerous well-known medicinal plants belonging to the same family, ‘Parppadakapullu’ (Diamond Flower) is also of the same genus. The components from Hedyotis species are used in various traditional Ayurvedic preparations. The Hedyotis Indirae grows at 6300 ft above sea level in the Western Ghats.

Dr.C.N Sunil, Professor, SNM College, Maliankara, Dr.R.Jagaddesan, V.V.Naveen Kumar, Former Scientists of the Division and Research Students Aiswarya Pilathottathil and V.S.Harish were in the discovery team.

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