Carissa kopilii, a multi utility wild berry is threatened by a hydroelectric project and water turned acidic.
• A multi-utility wild berry Carissa carandas, better known as karonda in Hindi, has a hitherto unknown cousin in Assam, Carissa kopilii.
• Carissa kopiliiis a wilder variety of the more familiar Carissa carandas.
• Carissa kopilii is named after a river — Kopili in central Assam.
• The plant is distributed sparsely, rooted in rocky crevices along the Kopili riverbed at altitudes ranging from 85-600 metres above sea level.
• Carissa kopilii, yields white flowers from August-October and fruits from November-January.
• Unlike the abundant Carissa carandas, Carissa kopilii is threatened by the very river it is named after.
• It is threatened by a hydroelectric project on the river and water turned acidic because of coal mining in Meghalaya upstream.
Carissa carandas has been used as a traditional herbal medicine for a number of ailments such as diarrhoea, anaemia, constipation, indigestion, skin infections and urinary disorders. The leaves have been used as fodder for silkworms while a paste of its pounded roots serves as a fly repellent.
The Carissa carandas was among several thorny plants the British had grown 140 years ago for a 1,100-mile barrier apparently to enforce taxes and stop the smuggling of salt.