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Cycas circinalis (Eenthu Pana)

Why is it in the news?

  • Cycas circinalis (Eenthu Pana) is at risk of extinction in northern Kerala due to the rapid spread of an unidentified plant disease.
About Cycas circinalis

·       Cycas circinalis, commonly known as Eenthu Pana, is a species of cycad native to southern India and Sri Lanka.

·       Belonging to the cycads family (Cycadaceae), Cycas circinalis is part of one of the planet’s most threatened plant groups.

·       This species originated 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period, making cycads one of the oldest surviving groups of seed plants.

·       Known by different names across India, such as Mund isalu in Kannada, madana kama raja in Tamil, and Malabari supari in Marathi, but commonly referred to as Eenthu Pana in Kerala.

·       Of the nine cycad species identified in India, six are native to the country, indicating the importance of the region for cycad biodiversity.

·       Eenthu Pana holds significant value for local communities in the Western Ghats, who utilize it for various purposes, including nutrition.

Characteristics:

·       Eenthu Pana is an evergreen tree resembling a palm, capable of reaching heights of up to 25 feet.

·       Typically found in dense, scrubby woodlands in hilly regions that experience seasonal dryness.

·       During periods of extreme aridity, the tree may shed its leaves as an adaptation mechanism.

·       Processing of Eenthu Pana requires complete dryness, which presents challenges as it is often harvested during the rainy season.

·       It usually takes 40 to 50 years for Cycas circinalis trees to bear fruit.

 

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