Tawang Coneflower
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Tawang Coneflower
P Native Photo: Dipankar Borah
Common name: Tawang Coneflower
Botanical name: Strobilanthes twangensis    Family: Acanthaceae (Acanthus family)

Tawang Coneflower is a newly described (2019) species of Strobilanthes from Eastern Himalaya. The species name twangensis reflects how the Monpa people pronounce "Twang". Flowers are 3.3 cm long, white with dark pink veins, hairy on the exterior, the interior hairless except for the filament curtain, the tube bell-shaped, straight, lobes 5, spreading, broadly ovate, rounded, about 6 x 5 mm; stamens 4, the shorter pair about 1 cm long, the longer pair slightly unequal, 1.4-1.5 cm long, held at flower mouth, anthers pale yellow. Style is 2.7-3 cm long, hairless, white, very shortly protruding, stigma curved. Flower-stalks are 1-2 mm, hairless; sepal-cup subequally 5-lobed to base, sepals 14 x 2 – 2.25 mm linear-oblong, narrowed to a somewhat pointed or blunt tip, fringed with hairs, white becoming pale green apically and on the margins. Flowers are borne in leaf-axils, in stalked, bracteate flower-heads. Flower-cluster-stalks 1.75-4 cm long, rising up, spreading or somewhat drooping, hairless; flower-heads about 2.5-3 cm long, formed of reduced racemes of up to 10 flowers, the internodes between the flower pairs up to 4 mm below, diminishing upwards, up to three flowers open at any one time; outer bracts 2.1 x 1.2 cm, foliose, inner bracts 1.3-1.5 x 0.5 cm, ovate. Bracteoles are 8-9 x 1.5-2 mm, oblong to oblong-pandurate. It is a weakly anisophyllous perennial herb; stems prostrate, rooting at nodes, forming extensive colonies on forest banks, eventually rising up to about 50 cm high, hairless. Leaves are stalked, slightly unequal in each pair, 6.5-12 x 4.5-6.5 cm, ovate or elliptic; tip shortly tapering; basally rounded and then abruptly narrowed to a shortly wedge-shaped, asymmetric base, shortly decurrent onto the stalk, margin rounded toothed with broad teeth 8-10 mm wide, fringed with hairs with brownish stiff hairs; both leaf surfaces hairless (except margins), above dark green, below paler; veins 5-6 pairs; leaf-stalks 2.5-5.5 cm long, diminishing in size upwards. Tawang Coneflower is endemic to the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh, at 2400-2800 m altitude.

Identification credit: Dipankar Borah Photographed in Tawang District, Arunachal Pradesh.

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