The researchers compared the collected samples with the published botanical works of other Rubus species found in Nepal, Bhutan, China and India. They also studied samples of herbariums available at the Natural History Museum in London, the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland, the National Herbarium and Botanical Laboratory in Godavari, the University of Tokyo in Japan, and the Central Department of Botany.
Researchers found the specimen collected from Shivapuri to be similar to the Rubus kumaonensis, which is native to Nepal and Tibet, and the Himalayan blackberry Rubus rugosas. They then compared the height, shape and texture of the leaves, as well as sepal and petal of the flowers of the new sample and the two species.
The differences in height and the size of the leaves of plant samples do not have much bearing when studying potential new plant species as they typically vary even for the same species depending on their geographic location. However, the botanists found other significant differences confirming that the new ainselu species was the first of its kind.
The article published in the journal Phytotaxa provides an in-depth study of the new plant, including detailed botanical sketches of their smallest parts. And while the two researchers and Sherpa do a commendable job, an extended study into the DNA would have added to it.
In fact, one of the authors of the article, ecologist Maan Bahadur Rokaya, is well placed to conduct the DNA study at the Institute of Botany of the Czech Academy of Sciences, where he is a researcher.
A DNA study would have revealed the internal differences between the different Rubus species whereas the morphological study is limited to identifying external variations. Such a detailed research would have served as a reference and resource for other botanists in the future.
Translated by Shristi Karki from the Himal Khabar.