All The Way From Nicobar, Kerala Researchers Root for ‘Giant Leaf’ to Beat Plastic

Scientifically known as Macaranga nicobarica, the species is endemic to Andaman and Nicobar islands, and its leaves are unusually!

In its crusade against plastic, Kerala has been foraying into every possible route and seeking solutions to help its citizens break free from their dependency on plastic.

From government bodies switching to metal food containers to restaurants being directed to offer free drinking water to reduce the sale of single-use plastic bottles, district administrations across Kerala are adopting innovative measures.

The latest suggestion concerns online food delivery services—Thiruvananthapuram’s district administration has requested them to switch to green packaging alternatives like plantain leaves.

What makes innovation central while looking for answers in such situations is that while the resources have always been present, it takes the vision of a few to realise their potential and work out feasible solutions.

And rightfully enough, the ‘giant leaf’ plant is being hailed by researchers in Kerala as the next best alternative to plastic packaging.

Giant Leaf or Macaranga nicobarica. Source: Mathrubhumi.

In fact, a specimen is currently being nurtured at the Vellanikkara campus of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR) in Thrissur.

“The plant was brought here as an alternative to the use of plastic in Kerala. [It] is also suitable for the climate of the state,” said K Joseph John, head of NBPGR (Thrissur), to Mathrubhumi.

Scientifically known as Macaranga nicobarica, the species is endemic to Andaman and Nicobar islands, and as its name suggests, its leaves have an unusually large dimension—65×60 cm!

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Following several visits to the islands to understand the potential of the plant, researchers decided to bring the giant leaf to Kerala two years ago.

Interestingly, the plant is strikingly similar to Macaranga peltata, a woody plant species that is locally known as Vattayila and is found in abundance across Kerala. However, the leaves of former are much larger in comparison.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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