Flora

Medicinal Plants

Medicinal Plants constitute an important component of the plant resource spectrum of Kerala. Recent analysis shows that out of estimated 4600 flowering plants in Kerala, about 900 possess medicinal values. Of these, 540 species are reported to occur in forest ecosystems. Over 150 species of plants that are either indigenous or naturalized in Kerala are used in the Indian system of Medicine like Ayurveda and Sidha. The rural folk and tribal communities make use of about 2,000 species of lesser-known wild plants for various medicinal uses. About 60 to 65% of plants required for Ayurvedic medicine and almost 80% of plants used in Sidha medicine are found in the forests of Kerala.

The major medicinal plants obtained from the forests of Kerala are Asparagus racemosus, Solanum anguivi, Desmodium gangeticum, Cissus quadrangularis, Psuedartheria viscida, Strobilanthes ciliatus, Dysoxylum malabaricum, Piper longum, Aristolochia indica, Ceasalpinia bonduc, Tribulus terrestris, Sarcostemma acidum, Baliospermum montanum, Aristolochia bracteolata etc.

The table below gives further details:

MEDICINAL PLANTS IN KERALA

Botanical Name Local Name
Acacia catechu Karingali
Acorus calamus Vayambu
Adathoda beddomei Atalodakan
Aegle marmelos Koovalam
Alpinia galanga Kolinji
Anisochilus carnosus Karimthumba
Aphanamixis polystachya Chemmaram
Aristolochia indica Karalakam
Asparagus racemosus Sathavari
Biophytum spp. Mukkuti
Cassia fistula Kanikonna
Coscinium fenestratum Maramanjal
Crateva magna Neermathalam
Curcuma zedoaria Manjakoova
Cyperus rotundus Muthanga
Daemia extensa Veliparuthy
Desmodim gangeticum Orila
Emblica officinalis Nelli
Gloriosa superba Menthonni
Gmelina arborea Kumizhu
Hemidesmus indicus Naruneendi
Heracleum candolleanum Chittelam
Holoptelia integrifloia Aaval
Holostemma adakodien Adapathiyan
Hydrocotyle asiatica Kudangal
Ipomoea pestigridis Pulichuvadi
Kaemperia galanga Kacholam
Malaxis rheedei Jeevakam
Azadirachta indica Veppu
Moniera cuncifolia Neerbrahmi
Mukia scabra Karthoti
Neolamarkia cadamba Kadambu
Nervilia aragoana Orilathamara
Nilgirianthes ciliatus Karimkurinji
Oroxylum indicum Palakapayyani
Oscimum sanctum Tulasi
Phyllanthus amarus Keezhanelli
Piper longum Thippali
Pongamia pinnata Ungu
Pseudarthria viscida Moovila
Rauvolfia serpentina Sarpagandhi
Rubia cordifolia Manchatti
Ruta graveolens Sathappu, Arootha
Salacia fruticosa Ekanayakam
Salacia oblonga Ponkoranti
Saraca asoca Ashokam
Sida cordifolia Kurumthotti
Stereospermum colais Pathiri
Symplocos cochinchinensis Pachotti
Terminalia arjuna Neermaruthu
Terminalia chebula Kadukka
Tinospora cordifolia Chittamruthu
Trichosanthus cucumerina Kaipan padavalam
Tylophora indica Vallippala
Vetiveria zizanoides Ramacham
Vitex negundo Karinochi
Hemidesmus indicus Nannari

 

Arogyapacha plant

Only the indigenous people, the Kani tribe, knew of the anti-fatigue properties of the Arogyapacha plant (Trichopus zeylanicus ssp.travancoricus), which they ate during long treks in the hilly Western Ghats region. The Kani tribe is traditionally a nomadic community, who now lead a largely settled life in the forests of the Agasthyamalai hills of the Western Ghats in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Tribal healers, known as Plathis, have knowledge on the medicinal properties of the flora and fauna of the region, and they passes this knowledge to the next generation orally.

In December 1987, a team of scientists undertook a botanical field survey into the forests of the Western Ghats of southern Kerala. Men from the local Kani tribe accompanied them. The leader, Dr. Pushpangadan, observed that the men ate some fruits which kept them energetic and agile; the team were later offered these fruits during arduous trekking and upon eating, experienced renewed energy and strength. Dr. Pushpangadan asked them about the source of the fruits, and after much persuasion and assurances that the information would not be misused, the Kanis finally showed him the fruits.

Preserving Local Knowledge

Convention on Biological Diversity aims to conserve and use biological diversity in a sustainable manner. It mandates that its signatories respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of local or indigenous communities and encourage the equitable sharing of benefits.

One method that is being used to document the knowledge and skills of local communities related to biological resources is through Community Biodiversity Registers. The register process seeks to document the knowledge of conservation, as well as economic uses of biodiversity resources that rest with India's local communities. This is being developed by local communities in collaboration with high school and college students, and local NGOs. All information accumulated in the register can be used or shared only with the knowledge and consent of the local community. The community, when consenting to the access, can charge fees for access to the register and collection of biological resources. Decisions on how to disburse the funds are to be made through village community meetings. There is concern about the Biodiversity Registers in case the process has the effect of placing knowledge hitherto regarded as secret by communities in the public domain, and that once this is done it would open the way for corporate and research interests to freely access and use the local knowledge about the biodiversity resources

Harvesting

The license to produce jeevani was granted to Arya Vaidya Pharmacy. A regular supply of the leaves of the plant was required. Scientific studies revealed that the medicinal properties of the plant are best manifested in plants growing in the natural habitat.

TBGRI suggested that as only leaves of the plant are needed, several harvests could be made from the perennial plant without actually destroying it. Therefore, in October 1997, a proposal to the Forest Department and Tribal Welfare Department stated that it was willing to pay Kanis seed money for cultivation of the plant, and would subsequently buy leaves harvested from these plants. This was not only a sustainable use of the natural resource, but the sale of leaves would also give the Kanis an extra source of income. TBGRI also assured the state department that no private parties would be involved in cultivation of the plant.

To facilitate this arrangement a pilot scheme for cultivation of the plant was carried out with support from the Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP) in areas surrounding the reserved forests from 1994 to 1996. Under this programme fifty families were given around Rs. 2000 ($40) each for cultivating the plant. TBGRI was to buy five tonnes of these leaves per month from the families and supply them to AVP for production of Jeevani. Through this scheme, roughly half the Kanis secured employment and were trained by TBGRI on various aspects of cultivation and harvesting of Arogyapacha to ensure that the plants are not over-harvested.

Lessons Learned

This experience has provided insight at multiple levels and is recognised as a world first in - how to commercialise use of natural resources in a sustainable manner; developing a valuable product and sharing benefits in a way that rewards the knowledge of indigenous people. It has been observed that:

  • The increase in demand could have led to excessive extraction of the biological resources, if the following measures were not taken:
    • Raising awareness among all stakeholders
    • Supporting and creating local institutions for sustainable extraction
    • Legitimising the property rights of communities over the use of biological resources and associated knowledge where were negotiated and defined at the local level.
  • The effective protection of intellectual property is a necessary condition for generation benefits, but it is not a sufficient condition for benefit sharing. Several additional measures are needed to supplement the role of intellectual property rights in benefit sharing over biological resources and traditional knowledge.

Ultimately, the initiative has empowered the Kanis to protect, preserve and maintain their knowledge, and the sustainable use of biological resources had resulted in benefiting the local and global community

 

Endemic Species

There are about 1272 species of endemic angiosperms out of 3800 species occurring in Kerala, which is 33.5% of its flora. Out of 5725 endemics in India, endemics of Kerala constitute 22.6% of Indian endemics. The endemic flora in Kerala is mainly palaeotropic in composition, which is a part of the peninsular Indian endemic flora of Gondwanaland origin. Though there are common elements, the characteristic endemic flora of Kerala and Sri Lanka was developed from a common stock, but isolated due to temporal or geographical barriers. The hill top flora of Nilgiris, Palani and Cardamom hills in peninsular India and Adam's Peak in Sri Lanka show similarities, which indicate that they are derived from a common stock. Three 'hot spots' of endemic centres in Kerala are: Agasthyamala, Anamalai- high ranges and Silent Valley- Wayanad.

There are about 189 endemic plant species reported from Agasthyamala and they occur in small populations over narrow ranges. The recent surveys have resulted in the discovery of 35 new species of plants from this small stretch of forests.

The endemic genera of Anamalai and High Ranges are Haplothismia, Pseudoglochidion and Utleria. The species which are critically endangered or probably extinct are Anaphalis barnesii, Begonia aliciae, Didymocarpus macrostachya, Habenaria flabelliformis, Impatiens anaimudica, I. johnii, I. macrocarpa, I. platyadena, I. verecunda, Ophiorrhiza barnesii, O. caudata, O. munnarensis and Sonerila nemakadensis.

The five endemic genera occurring in the Silent Valley- Wayanad region are: Chandrasekharania, Baeolepis, Kanjarum, Meteoromyrtus, and Silentvalleya.

 

Rare, Endangered and threatened species

Extinction or rarity of species may be due to environmental factors, ecological substitutes, biological factors, pathological causes and habitat destruction. The state of Kerala habitat destruction through conversion of forests into plantations and diversion of forests for non-forestry purpose such as hydel and irrigation projects took place to a great extent. . As a result the large chunk of forests became fragmented into isolated patches. Each such isolated patches act like an ecological island. Over exploitation of certain species (e.g. Paphiopedilum druryi) has also put them under threatened category, IUCN has estimated that about 10% of world’s vascular plants (20,000 to 25,000) are under different categories of threat.

Among the RET species reported from Kerala, Rubiaceae, and Fabaceae represents the maximum number of species (14 each) followed by Orchidaceae, (13), and Asclepiadaceae(11). Twenty three families are represented by single species (Table 1). Out of the 159 rare, endangered vulnerable and threatened species 70 are herbs, 23 are climbers, 8 epiphytic 15 shrubs and 43 trees. There are 64 rare, 22 threatened (vulnerable), 50 endangered and 7 extinct. Out of the 300 rare, endangered and threatened species of WG, 68 are in low elevation evergreen, 85 in medium elevation evergreen, 52 in high elevation evergreen and 32 in montane grasslands and the remaining are found in moist deciduous and dry deciduous habitat.

The major reasons for the vulnerability of the flora are habitat degradation, habitat alteration and unsustainable collection of NWFP species and for other purpose. The alteration of habitats such as grasslands (low, medium and high altitude ) for monoculture plantations, riparian ecosystems as reservoirs, low lying evergreen forests as agricultural land and homesteads has resulted in listing many species under extinct or vulnerable category.

RET species

S N. Species Family RET Status Endemic
1 Acranthera grandiflora Rubiaceae E Y
2 Actinodaphne bourneae Lauraceae E Y
3 Actinodaphne lanata Lauraceae E Y
4 Actinodaphne lawsonii Lauraceae R Y
5 Aspidopterys canarensis Malpighiaceae R Y
6 Anaphalis barnesii Asteraceae E Y
7 Anisochilus argenetus Lamiaceae V Y
8 Anisochilus wightii Lamiaceae E Y
9 Anhenry rotundifolia Orchidaceae E Y
10 Antistrophe serratifolia Myrsinaceae R Y
11 Aponogeton apendiculatus Apongetonaceae X  
12 Atuna travancorica Euphobiaceae X Y
13 Begonia aliciae Begoniaceae E Y
14 Begonia anamalayana Begoniaceae V Y
15 Begonia canarana Begoniaceae E Y
16 Begonia cordifolia Begoniaceae R Y
17 Begonia subpeltata Begoniaceae R  
18 Begonia trichocarpa Begoniaceae V Y
19 Bentinckia condapanna Areacaceae   Y
20 Buchanania barberi Anacardiaceae E Y
21 Bulbophyllum albidum Orchidaceae R Y
22 Bulbophyllum aureum Orchidaceae R Y
23 Campanula alphonsii Campanulaceae R Y
24 Capparis fusifera Capparaceae R Y
25 Capparis rheedei Capparaceae R Y
26 Cayratia pedata Vitaceae R Y
27 Cayratia roxburghii Vitaceae V Y
28 Ceropegia barnesii Ascepiadaceae E Y
29 Ceropegia beddomei Asclepiadaceae E Y
30 Ceropegia decaisneana Asclepiadaceae R  
31 Ceropegia metziana Asclepiadaceae R  
32 Ceropegia muculata Asclepiadaceae EN  
33 Ceropegia omissa Asclepiadaceae E Y
34 Ceropegia pusilla Asclepiadaceae R Y
35 Ceropegia spiralis Asclepiadaceae V  
36 Ceropegia thwaitesii Asclepiadaceae V  
37 Clematis bourdillonii Ranunculaceae V Y
38 Clematis theobromina Ranunculaceae R Y
39 Cleome burmannii Capparaceae X  
40 Coelogyne mossiae Orchidaceae V Y
41 Commelina indehiscens Commelinaceae R Y
42 Commelina wightii Commenlinaceae V Y
43 Corymborkis veratrifolia Orchidaceae R Y
44 Crolataria scabra Fabaceae R  
45 Crotalaria peduncularis Fabaceae R Y
46 Cyanotis cerifolia Comomelinaceae X  
47 Cyathea nilgirensis Cyatheaceae E Y
48 Cyclea fissicalyx Menispermaceae R Y
49 Cynometra beddomei Fabaceae X Y
50 Cynometra travancorica Fabaceae R Y
51 Desmos viridiflorus Annonaceae E Y
52 Dialium travancoricum Fabaceae X Y
53 Dictyospermum ovalifolium Commelinaceae R Y
54 Didymocarpus missionis Gesneriaceae R Y
55 Elaeocarpus munronii Elaeocarpaceae R Y
56 Elaeocarpus recurvatus Elaeocarpaceae R Y
57 Elaeocarpus venustus Elaeocarpaceae V Y
58 Elaphoglossum beddomei Elaphoglossaceae R Y
59 Elaphoglossum stigmatolepis Elaphoglossaceae V Y
60 Eria albiflora Orchidaceae R Y
61 Eriochrysis rangacharii Poaceae EX Y
62 Eugenia argentea Myrtaceae E /EX Y
63 Eugenia discifera Myrtaceae E Y
64 Euonymus angulatus Celastraceae E Y
65 Euonymus serratifolius Celastraceae E Y
66 Glycosmis macrocarpa Rutaceae R Y
67 Goniothalamus rhynchantherus Annonaceae R Y
68 Habenaria barnesii Orchidaceae R Y
69 Hedyotis beddomei Rubiaceae E Y
70 Hedyotis buxifolia Rubiaceae R Y
71 Hedyotis eualata Rubiaceae R Y
72 Hedyotis fruticosa Rubiaceae R  
73 Hedyotis ramarowii Rubiaceae V Y
74 Hedyotis swertioides Rubiaceae R Y
75 Helichrysum perlanigerum Asteraceae R Y
76 Hugonia belli Linaceae R Y
77 Humboldtia decurrens Fabaceae R Y
78 Humboldtia bourdilloni Fabaceae E Y
79 Humboldtia laurifolia Fabaceae E Y
80 Humboldtia unijuga var. unijuga Fabaceae E Y
81 Hydnocarpus macrocarpa Flacourtiaceae E Y
82 Hydrocotyle conferta Apiaceae R Y
83 Ilex gradneriana Aquifoliaceae E /EX Y
84 Impatiens neo-barnesii Balsaminaceae E Y
85 Impatiens nilgirica Balsaminaceae E Y
86 Impatiens anaimudica Balsaminaceae R Y
87 Impatiens johini Balsaminaceae E /EX Y
88 Impatiens macrocarpa Balsaminaceae E /EX Y
89 Impatiens munnarensis Balsaminaceae E /EX Y
90 Impatiens pandata Balsaminaceae R Y
91 Inga cynometroides Fabaceae X Y
92 Ipsea malabarica Orchidaceae E Y
93 Isachne fischeri Poaceae R  
94 Isonandra stocksii Sapotaceae V  
95 Isonandra villosa Sapotaceae X  
96 Kalanchoe olivacea Crassulaceae R Y
97 Limnopoa meeboldii Poaceae V Y
98 Lindsea malabarica Lindsaeaceae E Y
99 Liparis biloba Orchidaceae V Y
100 Mackenziea caudate Acanthaceae R Y
101 Madhuca bourdillonii Sapotaceae EX Y
102 Melicope indica Rutaceae V Y
103 Memecylon flavescens Melastomataceae E Y
104 Memecylon sisparense Melastomataceae X Y
105 Meteoromyrtus wynadensis Myrtaceae E Y
106 Miliusa nilagrica Annonaceae V Y
107 Murdannia juncoides Commelinaceae R Y
108 Murdannia lanceolata Commelinaceae V Y
109 Nothopegia aureo-fluva Anacaridiaceae E Y
110 Oberonia brachyphylla Orchidaceae R Y
111 Ochreinauclea mission is Rubiaceae V Y
112 Ophiorrhiza barnesii Rubiaceae EX Y
113 Ophiorrhiza brunonis Rubiaceae EX  
114 Ophiorrhiza incarnata Rubiaceae E Y
115 Ophiorrhiza caudate Rubiaceae EX Y
116 Ophiorrhiza radicans Rubiaceae EX  
117 Orophea uniflora Annonaceae R Y
118 Palaquium bourdillonii Sapotaceae X Y
119 Paphiopedilum druryi Orchidaceae E Y
120 Pavetta oblanceolata Rubiaceae X  
121 Peucedanum anamallayense Apiaceae R Y
122 Phaeanthus malabaricus Annonaceae V Y
123 Piper barberi Piperaceae R Y
124 Pogostemon atropurpureus Lamiaceae R Y
125 Pogostemon nilagiricus Lamiaceae E Y
126 Pogostemon paludosus Lamiaceae E Y
127 Pogostemon travancoricus Lamiaceae R Y
128 Polyalthia rufescens Annonaceae R Y
129 Popowia beddomeana Annonaceae R Y
130 Pronephrium thwaitesii Thelypteridaceae V  
131 Pseudocyclosorous gamblei Thelypteridaceae E Y
132 Pseudocyclosorous griseus Thelypteridaceae E Y
133 Pseudoglochidion anamalayanum Euphorbiaceae    
134 Pterospermum reticulatum Sterculiaceae R Y
135 Rhynchospora submarginata Cyperaceae X Y
136 Sageraea grandiflora Annonaceae E Y
137 Salacia malabarica Celastraceae E Y
138 Syzygium bourdillonii Myrtaceae E Y
139 Syzygium palghatense Myrtaceae E Y
140 Syzygium travancoricum Myrtaceae E Y
141 Tephrosia barberi Fabaceae R Y
142 Tephrosia wynaadensis Fabaceae R Y
143 Thottea barberi Aristolochiaceae V Y
144 Toxocarpus beddomei Asclepiadaceae R Y
145 Toxocarpus palghatensis Asclepiadaceae V Y
146 Utleria salicifolia Periplocaceae E Y
147 Vanasushava pedata Apiaceae R Y
148 Vanilla wightiana Orchidaceae R Y
149 Vateria macrocarpa Dipterocarpaceae R Y
150 Vernonia multibracteata Asteraceae E Y
151 Vernonia recurva Asteraceae E Y
152 Willisia selaginoides Podostemaceae R Y

Note: E-endangered; EX-extinct, X-undetermined; R-rare; V-vulnerable; Y-present
 

ENDANGERED FOREST SPECIES IN KERALA

Sl. No. Species Family Habit
1. Acampe congesta Orchidaceae Herbs
2. Adenosma malabaricum Scrophulariaceae Herbs
3. Anaphalis barnesii Compositae Herbs
4. Arisaema attenuatum Araceae Herbs
5. Arisaema auriculata Araceae Herbs
6. Arisaema peltatum Araceae Herbs
7. Hydnocarepus macrocarpa Flacourtiaceae Trees
8. Atuna travancorica Rosaceae Trees
9. Bombax scopulorum Bombacaceae Trees
10. Buchanania barberi Anacardiaceae Trees
11. Buchanania lanceolata Anacardiaceae Trees
12. Bulbophyllum aureum Orchidaceae Herbs
13. Calamus travancoricus Arecaceae Shrubs
14. Ceropegia beddomei Asclepiadaceae Climbers
15. Cirrhopetalum avreum Orchidaceae Herbs
16. Clematis bourdillonni Ranunculaceae Climbers
17. Colubrinma travancorica Rhamnaceae Shrubs
18. Cyclea fissicalyx Menispermaceae Climbers
19. Cynometra beddomei Fabaceae Trees
20. Cynometra travancorica Fabaceae Trees
21. Dalbergia beddomei Fabaceae Lianas
22. Dialium travancoricum Fabaceae Trees
23. Didymocarpus macrostachya Gesneriaceae Herbs
24. Dysoxylum beddomei Meliaceae Trees
25. Dysoxylum ficiforme Meliaceae Trees
26. Eugenia argentea Myrtaceae Trees
27. Eugenia discifera Myrtaceae Trees
28. Garcinia imberti Guttiferae Trees
29. Haplothismia exannulata Burmanniaceae Herbs
30. Hedyotis beddomei Rubiaceae Herbs
31. Hedyotis bourdillonii Rubiaceae Herbs
32. Hedyotis wynaadensis Rubiaceae Herbs
33. Hyalisma janthina Triuridaceae Herbs
34. Hydrobryum johnsonii Podostemaceae Herbs
35. Cinnamomum travancoricum Lauraceae Trees
36. Impatiens aliciae Balsaminaceae Herbs
37. Impatiens anaimudica Balsaminaceae Herbs
38. Impatiens cochinica Balsaminaceae Herbs
39. Impatiens coelotropis Balsaminaceae Herbs
40. Impatiens concinna Balsaminaceae Herbs
41. Impatiens johnii Balsaminaceae Herbs
42. Impatiens leptura Balsaminaceae Herbs
43. Impatiens macrocarpa Balsaminaceae Herbs
44. Impatiens munnarensis Balsaminaceae Herbs
45. Impatiens pandata Balsaminaceae Herbs
46. Impatiens platyadena Balsaminaceae Herbs
47. Impatiens pallidiflora Balsaminaceae Herbs
48. Impatiens rivulicola Balsaminaceae Herbs
49. Impatiens verecunda Balsaminaceae Herbs
50. Inga cynometroides Fabaceae Tree
51. Ipsea malabarica Orchidaceae Herbs
52. Isachne fischeri Gramineae Herbs
53. Isachne setosa Gramineae Herbs
54. Ixora johnsonii Rubiaceae Herbs
55. Jambosa bourdillonii Myrtaceae Trees
56. Janakia arayalpathra Periplocaceae Herbs
57. Limnopoa meeboldii Gramineae Herbs
58. Litsea travancorica Lauraceae Trees
59. Loesnerinella bourdilonii Celastraceae Climber
60. Madhuca bourdillonii Sapotaceae Trees
61. Meteoromyrtus wynaadensis Myrtaceae Trees
62. Morinda reticulata Rubiaceae Climber
63. Nilgirianthus asper Acanthaceae Shrubs
64. Nilgirianthus barbatus Acanthaceae Shrubs
65. Nilgirianthus beddomei Acanthaceae Shrubs
66. Nilgirianthus ciliatus Acanthaceae Shrubs
67. Nilgirianthus decurrens Acanthaceae Herbs
68. Nilgirianthus foliosus Acanthaceae Herbs
69. Nilgirianthus lupulinus Acanthaceae Herbs
70. Nilgirianthus neilgherrensis Acanthaceae Herbs
71. Nilgirianthus perrottetianus Acanthaceae Herbs
72. Nilgirianthus punctatus Acanthaceae Herbs
73. Nilgirianthus urceolaris Acanthaceae Herbs
74. Ochlandra beddomei Bambusaceae Trees
75. Ochreinauclea missionis Rubiaceae Trees
76. Oianthus beddomei Asclepiadaceae Twiners
77. Ophiorrhiza barnesii Rubiaceae Herbs
78. Ophiorrhiza candata Rubiaceae Herbs
79. Ophiorrhiza incarnata Rubiaceae Herbs
80. Ophiorrhiza munnarensis Rubiaceae Herbs
81. Orophea uniflora Annonaceae Shrub
82. Otonephelium stipulaceum Sapindaceae Trees
83. Palaquium bourdillonii Sapotaceae Trees
84. Paphiopedilum druryi Orchidaceae Herbs
85. Phaenanthus malabaricus Annonaceae Trees
86. Phlebophyllum lawsonii Acanthaceae Shrubs
87. Plectronia pergracilis Rubiaceae Shrubs
88. Poeciloneuron indicum Bonnetiaceae Trees
89. Poeciloneuron pauciflorum Bonnetiaceae Trees
90. Pogostemon travancoricus Labiatae Herbs
91. Polyalthia rufescens Annonaceae Trees
92. Pterospermum reticulatum Sterculiaceae Trees
93. Sageraea grandiflora Annonaceae Trees
94. Schefflera bourdillonii Araliaceae Climbers
95. Silentvalleya nairii Gramineae Herbs
96. Smithia venkobarowii Fabaceae Shrubs
97. Sonerila nemakadensis Melastomataceae Herbs
98. Strobilanthes dupenii Acanthaceae Herbs
99. Syzygium bourdillonii Myrtaceae Trees
100. Syzygium palghatense Myrtaceae Trees
101. Syzygium travancorcum Myrtaceae Trees
102. Taeniophyllum scaberulum Orchidaceae Herbs
101. Tephrosia wynaadensis Fabaceae Herbs
102. Toxocarpus palghatensis Asclepiadaceae Herbs
103. Vanilla wightiana Orchidaceae Herbs
105. Vernonia anaimudica Compositae Herbs
106. Vernonia heynei Compositae Herbs
107. Vernonia multibracteata Compositae Herbs
 

Only the indigenous people, the Kani tribe, knew of the anti-fatigue properties of the Arogyapacha plant (Trichopus zeylanicus ssp.travancoricus), which they ate during long treks in the hilly Western Ghats region. The Kani tribe is traditionally a nomadic community, who now lead a largely settled life in the forests of the Agasthyamalai hills of the Western Ghats in the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala. Tribal healers, known as Plathis, have knowledge on the medicinal properties of the flora and fauna of the region, and they passes this knowledge to the next generation orally.

In December 1987, a team of scientists undertook a botanical field survey into the forests of the Western Ghats of southern Kerala. Men from the local Kani tribe accompanied them. The leader, Dr. Pushpangadan, observed that the men ate some fruits which kept them energetic and agile; the team were later offered these fruits during arduous trekking and upon eating, experienced renewed energy and strength. Dr. Pushpangadan asked them about the source of the fruits, and after much persuasion and assurances that the information would not be misused, the Kanis finally showed him the fruits.

Preserving Local Knowledge

Convention on Biological Diversity aims to conserve and use biological diversity in a sustainable manner. It mandates that its signatories respect, preserve and maintain knowledge, innovations and practices of local or indigenous communities and encourage the equitable sharing of benefits.

One method that is being used to document the knowledge and skills of local communities related to biological resources is through Community Biodiversity Registers. The register process seeks to document the knowledge of conservation, as well as economic uses of biodiversity resources that rest with India's local communities. This is being developed by local communities in collaboration with high school and college students, and local NGOs. All information accumulated in the register can be used or shared only with the knowledge and consent of the local community. The community, when consenting to the access, can charge fees for access to the register and collection of biological resources. Decisions on how to disburse the funds are to be made through village community meetings. There is concern about the Biodiversity Registers in case the process has the effect of placing knowledge hitherto regarded as secret by communities in the public domain, and that once this is done it would open the way for corporate and research interests to freely access and use the local knowledge about the biodiversity resources

Harvesting

The licence to produce jeevani was granted to Arya Vaidya Pharmacy. A regular supply of the leaves of the plant was required. Scientific studies revealed that the medicinal properties of the plant are best manifested in plants growing in the natural habitat.

TBGRI suggested that as only leaves of the plant are needed, several harvests could be made from the perennial plant without actually destroying it. Therefore, in October 1997, a proposal to the Forest Department and Tribal Welfare Department stated that it was willing to pay Kanis seed money for cultivation of the plant, and would subsequently buy leaves harvested from these plants. This was not only a sustainable use of the natural resource, but the sale of leaves would also give the Kanis an extra source of income. TBGRI also assured the state department that no private parties would be involved in cultivation of the plant.

To facilitate this arrangement a pilot scheme for cultivation of the plant was carried out with support from the Integrated Tribal Development Programme (ITDP) in areas surrounding the reserved forests from 1994 to 1996. Under this programme fifty families were given around Rs. 2000 ($40) each for cultivating the plant. TBGRI was to buy five tonnes of these leaves per month from the families and supply them to AVP for production of Jeevani. Through this scheme, roughly half the Kanis secured employment and were trained by TBGRI on various aspects of cultivation and harvesting of Arogyapacha to ensure that the plants are not over-harvested.

Lessons Learned

This experience has provided insight at multiple levels and is recognised as a world first in - how to commercialise use of natural resources in a sustainable manner; developing a valuable product and sharing benefits in a way that rewards the knowledge of indigenous people. It has been observed that:

  • The increase in demand could have led to excessive extraction of the biological resources, if the following measures were not taken:
    • Raising awareness among all stakeholders
    • Supporting and creating local institutions for sustainable extraction
    • Legitimising the property rights of communities over the use of biological resources and associated knowledge where were negotiated and defined at the local level.
  • The effective protection of intellectual property is a necessary condition for generation benefits, but it is not a sufficient condition for benefit sharing. Several additional measures are needed to supplement the role of intellectual property rights in benefit sharing over biological resources and traditional knowledge.
Ultimately, the initiative has empowered the Kanis to protect, preserve and maintain their knowledge, and the sustainable use of biological resources had resulted in benefiting the local and global community
 
Sacred Groves

In Kerala it was the common practice among Hindus to assign a part of their land near the Tharavadu or house as the abode of goddess Durga or Serpent God Naga or Shasta and the place is called Kavu or Sarpakavu. Sacred Grove represent the major effort to recognize and conserve biodiversity (ethnic diversity) traditionally. The age old system of every village having a temple, a tank and associated sacred grove explains the ancient method of water harvesting and sharing and may be considered as the backbone of village economy. People were prohibited from felling trees and even removing a twig was considered as taboo. Some of the trees such as Borassus, Alstonia scholaris, Antiaris toxicaria, Hopea parviflora, Strychnos nux-vomica, Ficus religiosa etc are being worshipped in many sacred groves.

On a rough estimate Kerala has about 1500 sacred groves which are distinct and unique in biological diversity. Most of the sacred groves represent the relics of once gregarious and abundant low lying evergreen forests of the WG. Only very few are reported from the foothills and the high ranges. The size of the sacred grove in Kerala varies as small as one cent to 20 or more hectares. The available inventory on sacred grove indicates that maximum number of such areas is distributed in the northern districts of the state henceforth called Malabar. The vegetation in the undisturbed groves is luxuriant and with multi layered trees mixed with shrubs, lianas and herbs. The ground is humus laden and abundant with fungus and ferns. The floristic composition is highly influenced by exposure to anthropogenic pressures, cattle grazing, edaphically and climatic variations.

The common tree species found in the sacred grove are Artocarpus hirsutus, Mesua ferrea, Vateria indica, Hopea parviflora, H ponga, Alstonia scholaris Mimusops elengi, Hydnocarpus pentandra, Holigarna arnottiana etc. The lianas include Strychnos colubrina, Anamirta cocculus, Tetracera akara, and Acacia intsia. Shrubs are represented by Ixora nigricans, I bracteata, chassalia curviflora, etc. The seasonal plants such as Geophila reniformis, Borreria sp., Naregamia alata, Centella asiatica, Aerva lanata, Adrographis paniculata, Biophytum sensitivum, form the ground vegetation. In southern region of the state, Members of the mangroves swamps like Myristica fatua var.magnifica, M.malabarica Hydnocarpus spp and Eugenia spp are found in the poorly drained sacred groves. These species are known to develop high profile humidity in the surroundings that promote luxurius growth of undergrowths.

The animals found in the sacred grove are of two types, those which inhabits the groves like snakes, frogs, lizards and other lower group of organisms and higher group of fauna who nests and dens there and those who visits the grove temporarily for food, shelter etc. Sacred groves act as an abode for many rare, endemic, endangered species and economically important plants of fruit bearing and medicinal properties. Apart from conserving biological diversity, sacred groves that are situated in the middle of the human habitation are responsible for conserving water and soil. This is evident from the perennial nature of ponds, wells and tanks, which are situated near the sacred groves. The fertility of the agro-ecosystems is very high due to the humus and nutrients generated in the sacred groves.

The major threats to the existence of sacred grove in Kerala are the disappearance of old joint family system and partition of family properties along with changing socio-economic scenario. In most of the cases the Kavu and surrounding areas will be handed over to a generation who has no faith or less faith in keeping the integrity of the Kavu. In such instances either the Kavu will be totally denied or some time only the deity will be retained and big trees and associated habitat will be totally converted for other purposes. In some cases symbolic representation of grove is allowed to remain by preserving the oldest and largest tree in the grove.

The second major threat is the anthropogenic activities and cattle grazing. As the demand for land is always high in Kerala, the shrinkage of grove was one of the inevitable causes. Encroachment has resulted in the shrinkage of some of the largest Kavu in Ernakulam and Kannur districts. In some cases the old trees in the Kavu may be uprooted by natural calamities and this will be taken a reason for reducing the area of Kavu in certain cases. Cutting of trees for temple and associated purpose had also been reported from some areas. Since the very locations of these virgin ecosystems are in the middle of the people, cattle grazing, collection of dry leaves , firewood is a common phenomenon in Kerala.

Sacred groves have existed in India from time immemorial as patches of densely wooded areas, venerated on religious grounds. Sacred groves have preserved many rare and endemic wild plant species, many of which hold potential benefit to man in medicine, agriculture and industry. In fact, sacred groves represent the ancient Indian way of in situ conservation of genetic diversity. Reverence for all forms of life human, animal or plant, characterizes our ancient thought and continues to this day as a legacy laced with spirituality, humility and recognition of the importance of the elements and nature. Sanctity attached to places where nature shows her bounty was both spiritual and secular. These places were considered 'sacred', as Gods were supposed to bless them and naturally their protection was considered an obligation on the part of the society. Thus many a sacred grove has been preserved as sustainable resources, ensuring the basic capital in tact. These sacred groves are therefore valuable gene pools and the first major effort to recognize and conserve biodiversity.

Most sacred groves harbored perennial water source and hence formed the vital support system of many villages. The age-old system of every village having a temple, a tank and associated sacred grove explains the ancient method of water harvesting and sharing.

To quote Dr. M.S. Swaminathan:
Unlike, a botanical garden where a wide range of trees and plants are collected and cultivated for the purpose of education and enjoyment, the sacred groves are one method of expressing the gratitude of human families to the trees which sustain and support life under a given agro-ecological condition.

Religious, Cultural and Historical Background

Sacred groves have been reported from many parts of the world where mostly tribals live and practise shifting cultivation eg. Mexico, Ghana, Nigeria, China, Syria, Turkey etc. In India they are known from Himalayas, North-East India, highlands of Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Locally they are known variously as "Sarana" (in central India), "Devrai" and "Deviahate" in Maharashtra, "Devarkadu" in Coorg, 'Orance' in Rajasthan, "Kavu" or 'Nagavanam' in Kerala, "Nandavana" in Tamil Nadu, "Sidharavanam" in Karnataka, "Kavu" in Andhra Pradesh. In some cases the tallest tree in the grove is worshipped in the belief that it is the incarnation or abode of god.'Trees such as Borassus flabellifer; Alstonia scholaris. Antiaris toxicaria, Hopea parviflora, Strychnos nux-vomica, Ficus religiosa etc. are being worshipped in this way.

One significant aspect is that being mini forests, these kavus abound in large stately trees which have grown into full size. Right from vedic period due to fetishism, trees have become objects of veneration. In vedic literature, there are references about amulets prepared with plants to ward off evil spirits and cure diseases. Similarly there are specific trees mentioned for planting and preservation. The "Sthala Vriksha" concept common in South India, is actually an ancient form of conservation of certain important species, mainly trees. Each temple is associated with a "Sthala Vriksha" which is linked to the deity. The leaves of Aegle marmelos (Bilva or Koovalam) are usually used for worshipping Siva and flowers of Cassia fistula to adorn Vishnu. Usually sacred groves have one or more 'Sthala Vriksha'. These are protected and worshipped for their sociological, medicinal and social importance. Common examples of such species are Peepul (Ficus religiosa) neem (Azadirachta indica) maruthu (Terminalia paniculata) Kanikonna (Cassia fistula) and Bilva (Aegle marmelos).

Present Status

On a rough estimate, Kerala has about 1500 sacred groves, distinct and unique in biological diversity. Some of them are just relics of a once-gregarious vegetation. In fact the area varies from one cent as in some nagaru kavus to more than 20 hectares in Iringole Kavu, 'Kunnathurpadi kavu, Payyannur (18.211 ha) and Theyyottukavu, Kannur dist. (16.187 ha) are two other large Kavus in Kerala. A complete inventory of the sacred groves of Kerala is not available.

The sacred groves are spread throughout the lowlands of Kerala extending up to the foot hills. There are a few groves in the high ranges of Idukki and Wayanad districts. As a general rule, they are confined to lower elevations. Districts like Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha, Thrissur. Kozhikode, Kannur and Kasaragod have maximum number of groves.

Flora and Vegetation

The general floristic composition and physiognomy of vegetation of the sacred groves are typically like the low level evergreen forest. The vegetation in undisturbed groves is luxuriant and comprises several stories of trees mixed with shrubs. Lianes and herbs. The ground is humus laden and covered with litter. Macro-fungus are abundant, so also ferns. Whenever there is a water body algae and water plants grow gregariously. Floristic variations have occurred in many sacred groves exposed to human and animal interferences and climatic and edaphic changes.

Top canopy is represented by species like Artocarpus hirsutus, Vateria indica, Hopea parviflora, Hopea ponga, Alstonia scholaris etc. Second storey consists of Macaranga peltata, Mimusops elengi, Hydnocarpus wightiana, Holigarna arnottiana etc. Common lianas are Strychnos colubrina, Anamirta cocculus, Tetracera akara, Acacia intsia etc. Chassalia curviflora, lxora nigricans, Ixora brachiata are constituents of the shrubby layer. The ground layer is usually formed of seasonal members as, Centella asiatica, Aerva lanata, Andrographis paniculata, Biophytum sensitivum. Common climbers are Calamus spp, Anamirta cocculus. Strychnos colubrina, Calycopteris floribunda etc. Other climbers commonly found in these groves belong to Vitaceae. Menispermaceae. Asclepiadaceae and Apocynaceae. Total parasites like Cassytha filiformis and semiparasites like Loranthus spp, are also common. Common constituents of the shrubby layer include species like Memecylon umbellatum, Pavetta indica, Chassalia ophioxyloides, lxora spp etc. The ground layer is usually thickly populated with species which prefer humus and love shade. Along with a few angiosperms, ferns, Selaginellas and many macrofungi like species of Agaricus, etc. occur. Dead trunks of fallen trees harbor a variety of Polyporales. especially species of Fomes and Polyporus as is common in Iringole Kavu.

Typical evergreen elements of the tree layer of these sacred groves are Artocarpus hirsutus, Hopea parviflora, Mesua ferrea, Vateria indica, Ficus spp etc. There are also a few semi evergreen representatives like Fagraea ceylanica, Murraya exotica, Samadera indica etc. A few deciduous and semideciduous members also are seen. Semideciduous representatives are species of Cinnamomum, Syzygium cumiini, Litsea spp, Mangifera indica etc. Mallotus philippensis, Dillenia pentagyna and Trema orientalis are some of the deciduous species.

Semi-evergreen representatives are found among the undergrowth also, common members being Pavetta indica, Curcuma aromatica, Nephrolepis spp etc. Epiphytic orchids like Vanda spathulata, Vanda tessellata, and Bulbophyllum spp are also common.

Some characteristic morphological adaptations accompany the members of the sacred groves. Broad prominent buttresses are seen in most of the trees like Ficus spp, Hopea parviflora etc. which attain enormous heights with tall bole, the branches confining to the top most region

A very interesting constituent of the sacred groves is represented by members of the typical mangroves swamp found in poorly drained regions of South Travancore with a very long rainy season. Common members represented are Myristica magnifica with prominent dense stilt roots, Myristica malabarica. Hydnocarpus spp. Eugenia spp. etc. These members are known to develop a high profile of humidity in the surroundings their presence in certain groves is justified as they promote luscious growth of undergrowth mostly members of Araceae, Urticaceae. Zingiberaceae, Acanthaceae etc The exact physiological implication behind this high humidity is not experimentally proved, though it may be ascribed to very high transpiration rates of the leaves of these trees.

Fauna

Animals associated with sacred groves are of two categories. Those which inhabit the groves and those which visit them. Snakes of different categories, frogs, lizards, millipedes, termites, ants earth worms, and snails form a very important component of the sacred grove ecosystem. Termites, ants and earth worms play an important role in the make up of the soil. Many birds like crows, kites, owls, herons, mynas, parrots, humming birds etc. nest in these sacred groves. Bats, humming birds and insects like mosquitoes, wasps, honey-bees, butterflies and beetles seem to be closely connected with pollination mechanism of various plants. Monkeys, most of the birds, rodents like rats. mice. bandicoots, squirrels, mongoose, hares which are also inhabitants of these sacred groves help the plants in dispersal of seeds and fruits.

As an ecosystem, sacred groves help in soil and water conservation besides preserving biological wealth. The ponds and streams usually adjoining the groves are perennial water sources. Many animals and birds resort to them for their water requirements during summer. These groves are good repositories of humus, which is formed by litter decomposition. The nutrients generated in the groves find their way into the adjoining agroecosystems like paddy fields, tapioca and rubber plantations.

The floral diversity of these groves is very high. It is also interesting to note that particularly some members are represented in most of the groves.

Major Threats to the Sacred Groves

1. Disappearance of the tharavadu system

In olden days, when joint family system (tharavadu) was in vogue, maintenance of kavu was easy. Same is the case with the temple trusts; many temples were owned by ancient big families. As the families declined in wealth and power, due to various reasons, especially following partition, the fate of sacred groves was at stake. In many instances the whole land was sold to others who may not have any faith in the religious practices. In some cases this resulted in the clearing of groves and shifting of the presiding deity to some well-known shrines like Pampummekattu mana (Thrissur district), Mannarsala and Vettikot (Alappuzha district) and the Peralasseri (Kannur district).

In many cases, the presiding deity is still worshipped but without grove. The original tree cover is removed and new temple constructed. All the rituals are performed but in a modified form. This is mainly to minimize the extent of area meant for the purpose. The land thus carved out is utilized for cultivating economic crops. Thus tapioca, rubber, coconut etc. are planted extensively in temple premises, replacing the virgin sacred groves.

In some cases symbolic representation of grove is allowed to remain by preserving the largest and oldest tree in the grove (Eg: Nagaru kavu in Nedumangad) and removing all other vegetation. All rituals and offerings are followed as in the case of a grove. Trees such as Ficus religiosa, F. benghalensis, Borassus flabellifer, Strychnos nux-vomica, Alstonia scholaris, Antiaris toxicaria, Hopea parviflora, Aegle marmelos etc. are the main trees allowed to remain.

2. Grazing, poaching and other antisocial activities

Even in those groves which are more or less intact cattle grazing has destroyed many fringe species. This is very common in most of the groves. Vandanum Kavu (Alappuzha district) is a typical example, where destruction due to elephants from the nearby temple is rampant. Removal of rare medicinal plants, canes, bamboos and firewood and poaching of birds and animals are other harmful activities causing degradation of kavus.

3. Changing socioeconomic scenario

The land reforms in Kerala enabled a large section of the society to own a minimum piece of land. If the newly acquired land was a "Sarpa kavu" and the owner was not having any other piece of land nor any resource to spend on kavu rituals, he resorted to the destruction of the Kavu using it for some "material" benefits. Religious beliefs and taboos are no more practiced by a good section of younger generation and hence they do not possess the awe and reverence to these sacred groves.

Many groves of economically and medicinally important plants are no more the treasure houses of these plants. Over exploitation of its resources and the mounting pressure on land have caused severe environmental degradation in Kerala. The habit of planting trees for its medicinal value or scenic beauty has given way to have more profitable cash/plantation crops. In many a case the Kavu has been replaced even for house construction.It is worthy of mention that many sacred groves owned by Devaswom Board are preserved better as in Vadakottu Sastha Temple Kavu (Neyyattinkara) Indalayappan Kavu, (Nedumangad) etc. Other examples are Kolani Kavu (Thodupuzha) and Iringole Kavu (Perumbavoor). Examples of complete destruction are Pambummekkattu Kavu (Thrissur district). Of course most of the sacred groves are preserved partially.

Why to Conserve Sacred Groves?

Protection of the environment and life supporting systems are interwoven with conservation of biological diversity. Sacred groves represent this all-embracing concept and practice of ancient Indian way of in situ conservation of genetic diversity. Sacred groves, in general act as a nursery and store house of many of the local ayurvedic, tribal and folk medicines. Fruits of Artocarpus, Syzygium, Salacia, Phyllanthus, Mangifera, Buchanania, Carissa, Garcinia etc. are eaten by birds and animals (mostly nocturnals) in the sacred groves.

As an ecosystem, the environmental significance of the sacred groves is a matter well forgotten. In fact, they even help in soil and water conservation besides preserving its rich biological wealth. The ponds and streams adjoining the groves are perennial water sources. These are the last resorts to many of the animals and birds for their water requirements, especially during summer. Sacred groves also enrich the soil through its rich litter composition. The nutrients generated thus are not only recycled Within the sacred grove ecosystem but also find their way into the adjoining agroeco systems.

In spite of the very high land to man ratio, these groves have been thriving, which naturally shows the very high reverence and importance some people attach to these sacred groves. At a time when evergreen forests have been dwindling at an alarming rate in the Western Ghats, preservation and management of these sacred groves are unavoidable, for each of this is a treasure house of rare species, germplasm collection of all the plants in an area, and abode of rare, medicinal and economically important plants.

Conclusion

Preservation of sacred groves is an important necessity in this era of dwindling forest cover; but the problem is difficult to tackle, as the number of sacred groves is many and the agencies in charge of them are diverse. Hence a common approach in all cases may not be feasible. However following are some suggestions to save the relics from total extinction.

1. Take an inventory of all the sacred groves of Kerala. Department of Science and Technology, Government of Kerala can take the initiative and fund a project taking of course the assistance of the Willing institutions, coming under its care.

2. Government may encourage the owners who are willing to conserve their groves by giving them incentives in the form of maintenance grants or awards.

3. Create awareness in the public about the importance of these groves and the necessity for their preservation through mass media like All India Radio and Doordarshan.

4. Enforce total ban on felling of trees and poaching of birds and animals in sacred groves.

5. Preserve the rare species found in sacred groves in seed banks of various institutions or develop embryo/tissue culture of these rare species and make then available in enormous numbers so that they are no more endangered.

Government may create a Cell for conservation of sacred groves on par with Western Ghats Development Cell with the assistance of different funding agencies of Government of India like the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Environment and Forests, Man and Biosphere, Department of Biotechnology etc.

Climbers common in sacred groves

  1. Abrus precatorius L.
  2. Acacia intsia W & A
  3. Ampelocissus arnottiana Planch.
  4. Anamirta cocculus (L) W&A
  5. Asparagus racemosus Willd.
  6. Calycopteris floribunda Lam.
  7. Cissus pallida L.
  8. Coccinia cordifolia (L.) Cong.
  9. Combretum latifolium Blume.
  10. Cyclea peltata (Lam.) Hook.f. & Thoms
  11. Dioscorea pentaphylla L.
  12. Gloriosa superba L.
  13. Gnetum ula Brongn
  14. Ichnocarpus.frutescens (L) R. Brown.
  15. Ipomoea alba L.
  16. Jasminum angustifolium (L) Vahl.
  17. Kunstleria keralensis Mohanan et Nair
  18. Mikania cordata (Burm. f) Robins.
  19. Morinda umbellata L.
  20. Moullava spicata (Dalz.) Nicolson
  21. Mucuna gigantea DC.
  22. Myxopyrum serratulum A.W. Hill
  23. Naravelia zeylanica (L) DC.
  24. Passiflora.foetida L.
  25. Piper longum L.
  26. Piper nigrum L.
  27. Quisqualis indica L.
  28. Sarcostigma kleinii W&A
  29. Smilax zeylanica L.
  30. Ziziphus rugosa Lam.

Epiphytes and parasites common in sacred groves

  1. Acampe praemorsa (Roxb.) Blatt. & Mc Cann
  2. Bulbophyllum neilgherrense Wight
  3. Cleisostoma tenuifolium (L.) Garay
  4. Cymbidium aloifolium (L.) SW
  5. Dendrobium herbaceum Lindl.
  6. Dendrobium macrostachyum Lindl.
  7. Gastrochilus acaulis (Lindl.) Kuntze
  8. Luisia zeylanica Lindl.
  9. Polystachya concreta

Endemic plants of the Western Ghats common in the sacred groves of Kerala

  1. Artocarpus hirsutus Lam.
  2. Artocarpus integrifolia L.
  3. Blepharistemma membranifolia(Miq) Ding Hou.
  4. Calophyllum apetalum Willd.
  5. Calotropis procera R. Br.
  6. Cardiospermum halicacabum L
  7. Centella asiatica Urb.
  8. Coffea travancorensis W. & A.
  9. Colocasia esculenta (L) Schott.
  10. Curculigo orchioides Gaertn.
  11. Datura stramonium L
  12. Desmodium gangeticum DC.
  13. Desmos lawii (J.Hook .f. & Thoms) Safford.
  14. Dioscorea bulbifera L.
  15. Ecbolium viride (Frossk) Alston.
  16. Ervatamia heyneana (Wall) Cooke
  17. Eugenia sp.
  18. Eupatorium odoratum L.
  19. Evolvulus alsinoides L.
  20. Geophila repens (L) Johnston
  21. Glycosmis pentaphylla Corr.
  22. Grewia microcos L.
  23. Hemidesmus indicus R. Br.
  24. Hibiscus aculeatus Roxb.
  25. Holigarna arnottiana J.H.K..
  26. Holigarna beddomei J.H.K.
  27. Hopea parviflora Bedd.
  28. Hopea ponga (Dennst) Mabb.
  29. lxora brachiata Roxb.
  30. Ixora coccinea L.
  31. lxora lanceolaria Hook.f.
  32. Ixora nigricans R. Brown ex Wight & Arm
  33. Justicia simplex D.Don
  34. Kunstleria keralensis Mohanan & Nair
  35. Lantana camara L.
  36. Leea indica (Burm. E) Merr.
  37. Leucas aspera Spr.
  38. Liparis viridiflora Lindl.
  39. Litsea fioribunda (BI) Gamble
  40. Madhuca neriifolia (Moon) H. j. Lam
  41. Mallotus philippensis M. Arg.
  42. Melastoma malabathricum L.
  43. Memecylon edule Roxb.
  44. Memecylon heyneanum Benth.
  45. Memecylon utnbellatum Burro. F..
  46. Mesua ferrea L.
  47. Mimosa pudica L.
  48. Moullava spicata (Dulz) Nicolson.
  49. Murraya paniculata (L) Jacq.
  50. Mussaenda belilla Buch. - Ham.
  51. Mussaenda laxa (J.H.K) Hutch ex. Gamble
  52. Myristica malabarica, Lam.
  53. Naregamia alata W&A"
  54. Neolitsea zeylanica Meisn.
  55. Nothopegia colebrookeana (Wight) Blume.
  56. Ophiorrhiza tnungos L.
  57. Pandanus furcatus Roxb.
  58. Pavetta indica L.
  59. Psychotria curviflora Wall ex Roxb.
  60. Rauvolfia canescens L.
  61. Santalum album L.
  62. Sida carpinifolia L.f.
  63. Sida cordifolia L.
  64. Sida rhombifolia L.
  65. Solanum xanthocarpum Sch&W
  66. Stachytarpheta indica Vahl.
  67. Tephrosia tinctoria (L) Pets.
  68. Terminalia paniculata Roth.
  69. Torenia travancorica Gamb.
  70. Vateria indica L.
  71. Vernonia cinerea Less.
  72. Zingiber zerumbet Sm.
  73. Zizyphus oenoplia Mill.
  74. Zornia diphylla Pres.

In Kerala a love for nature even among people living in village and urban conditions is evident from the practice of preserving very small areas with all the natural plants and other animal undisturbed. Such natural units are preserved as part of the temple environment through out Kerala and they are called sacred groves. Some of the sacred groves extent to 35 ha. These sacred groves exhibit typical forest conditions and they are remnants of the natural forest once existed in those areas.

Orchids

Among the various floristic compositions orchids form one of the major groups found in all the vegetational types from western coastal region to mountains. The majority of orchids are found in the forests and each forest type has its own composition of orchid flora. High rainfall and the relatively cool climate coupled with bright sunshine contribute ideal habitat for the growth of epiphytic orchids. The profuse growth of moss on trees is well suited to the growth of small epiphytic orchids.

 

Altogether 267 species, 3 subspecies and 2 varieties in 72 genera are reported from Western Ghats. Among them 130 species, 2 subspecies and 2 varieties are endemics to India. Of these, 72 species, 2 subspecies and 2 varieties are endemic to Western Ghats. Nineteen taxa are extremely rare and endangered.

 

The commonly seen epiphytic orchids are Sirhookera latifolia, S. lanceolata, Dendrobium heyneanum, D.heterocarpum, Eria reticosa, Trias stocksii, Bulbophyllum,Neelgherrense. The terrestrial orchids are mostly Calanthe masuca, Disperis neilgherrensis, Habenaria crinifera, Epipogium roseum, Anoectochilus, etc. Acampe praemorsa is the most common and widely distributed species in the plains. Vanda spathulata though restricted is confined to trees of the sea coast. Habenaria diphylla and H. plantaginea prefer open scrub jungle

 

Some of the orchids presumably extinct are Acampe congesta, A. rigida, and Taeniophyllum scaberulum. The genus Vanilla with 3 species is also becoming rare and adequate conservation steps are to be taken to save them. Some of the rare and endangered orchids are Aenhenrya rotundifolias, Brachycorythis wightii, Bulbophyllum nodosum, Coelogyne mossiae, Ipsea malabarica, Liparis beddomei, Paphiopedilum druryi and Vanda wightii.

ORCHIDS, ANTHURIUMS AND INDOOR PLANTS

Kerala is blessed with tropical and subtropical climate because of its elevation from the sea level to the Western Ghats (over 2000m). Availability of good rainfall and high humidity enables it to grow a number of tropical and sub-tropical flowers. However, our contribution to flower industry is almost negligible. The early nineties witnessed an interest in the commercial cultivation of flowers of orchid and anthurium in the State. Availability of sunshine, good rainfall, high relative humidity, educated workforce, and adequate national and international air communication, the State possesses all the potentialities for taking up large scale cultivation on a commercial basis.

 

Potential for Floriculture in Kerala

  1. The State can be divided into following zones for ornamental plants cultivation.
  2. Palakkad district (low rainfall, low humidity, cheap labour) suitable for jasmine, crossandra, marigold.
  3. Hill zone unto 1000 meters above msl suitable for anthurium, rose, carnation, gladiolus, gerbera, foliage plants.
  4. Hill zone, 1000-2000 metres above msl (in polyhouse for certain crops) suitable for Cymbidium orchid, gladiolus, bird of paradise.
  5. Other areas-coastal and midland suitable for orchid, anthurium, foliage plants.

Orchid

Among cut flowers orchids occupy a prime position, because of their long spikes, many coloured and shaped flowers and long life. The family of orchid, Orchidaceae, consists of 600-800 genera and 30,000-35,000 species. Ever since the creation of the first hybrid in1956, over a lakh hybrids have been produced and continued to be produced, making available huge quantities of newer varieties. The commercial orchids are both terrestrial and epiphytic, but most of them are epiphytic. Though both monopodial (having single stemmed growth) and sympodial (having multi stemmed growth) are equally used in commercial cultivation, sympodial types (Cymbidium, Dendrobium etc) rank higher in the export market.

 

DENDROBIUM (SONIA)

The sympodial genera suitable for Kerala, are Cymbidium (at high altitudes), Oncidium and Cattleya, and the monopodial genera are Vanda, Arachnis and Phalaenopsis. Intergeneric monopodial hybrids like Aranda (A, rachnis x Vanda), Ascocenda (Ascocentrum x Vanda), Mokara (Arachnis, Ascocentrum, Vanda) also perform well.

 

Suitable Dendrobium hybrids for Kerala

The genus Dendrobium consists of large number of species (about 1500). Some of the popular varieties in Kerala are Sonia 17, Sonia 17 Mutant, Sonia 28 Mutant, Hieng Beauty, Renappa, Dorine White, Emma White, Kasem White,, Kasem Gold and Banyat Pink.

 

Environment

Since the commercial orchids of Kerala are epiphytic, soil condition is not a problem; only water quality is important. Availability of high humidity and shade regulation are also important factors for the growth and production.

SONARILA SPECIES
Orchids are grown from seeds, tissue cultured plants and by conventional vegetative propagation. Vegetative propagation is easier to carry out, but slower. Monopodial orchids like Vanda and Arachnis can be propagated by top cuttings. In genera such as Phalaenopsis and Phaius, flower stalks give rise to plants. Sympodial orchids like Dendrobium, Cattleyas and Cymbidium are propagated by division. The shoots growing on the plants (which are called 'Keikis') and back bulbs (spent canes) can also be used as propagules. In tissue culture seeds, axillary buds, apical buds, leaf segments and inflorescence axes are used. The common media used for tissue culture are MS, Vacin and Went and Knudson C. Earthen pots, baskets, tree fern blocks, wooden trays and whole husk of coconut are the common containers used for planting orchids. Sufficient drainage is essential. For this, holes are to be provided in the containers. The medium used for growing orchids should allow good aeration and drainage. It should not absorb much water and degenerate easily.

 

Propagation

Broken bricks, gravel, tile bits, charcoal, coconut husk bits, tree fern etc. are some of the components of the media used for growing epiphytic orchids. The components are washed thoroughly before filling in pots. For terrestrial orchids, a mixture of humus, leaf mould, dried manure, chopped fern fibre and spaghnum moss will suffice.

 

Cultural details

 

Impatiens phoenicea

Kerala offers salubrious natural conditions for luxuriant growth and development of orchids. However, better attention in planting, regulation of shade, irrigation, nutrition, plant protection and post harvest handling is necessary to produce quality flowers.Planting In sympodial orchids, the propagule is placed near the edge of the container the growing point facing the centre. The monopodial orchid is placed at the centre. The potting materials are filled around the plant and the plant is fixed tightly. The whole plant with pot may be dipped in water after planting and thereafter watered judiciously.

 

Impatiens coelotropis

 

Shade regulation:

The monopodial types such as Vanda, Arachnis and Aranda prefer open conditions. Dendrobiums, on the other hand require partial shade. A high pressure, low volume irrigation, such as mist irrigation, or fogging (microsprinkler) would be ideal.

 

Nutrition:

Orchids require both major and minor nutrients. A low concentration of this is applied frequently as whole plant spray. Two sprays per week is generally enough. Micronutrients help in improving the quality and need to be applied once a month. The chemical fertilizers are to be properly balanced with organic manures like cowdung, cow urine, ground-nut oil cake Neem oil cake etc. They should be diluted before application.

 

Ranunculus reniformis

 

Plant protection

The common insects which attack orchids are beetle, stem borer, mites, snails and slugs. Non-insect pests like rats, grasshoppers and cockroaches are also sometimes seen. Fungal diseases too are common. Proper field sanitation and use of the correct type and dose of chemicals are used to manage them.

 

Harvesting and post-harvest handling

The spikes are harvested when a few buds at the top remain un-open. The spikes are cut with a small stalk. The cut end is dipped in a fungicide solution and then covered with a wet cotton swab and properly tied using a rubber band. They are then packed in carton of appropriate sizes and having proper ventilation holes. The spikes are inserted in polythene covers and packed loosely in the cartons.

 

Impatiens parasitica

 

Homestead cultivation

At homestead level, cultivation of orchid helps to utilize free time of family members and provide supplementary income. In urban areas, house terraces can be utilised for this. A commercially viable unit may have a minimum of 500 plants. Plants belonging to sympodial group (preferably, Dendrobium hybrids) are ideal. The net annual profit from second year onwards would be Rs. 2500-3500. Disposal of flowers is a problem to reckon with.

 

Lysimachia deltoids

 

Commercial cultivation

There is no upper limit to expanding cultivation except for ensuring proper arrangements for marketing of flowers. The other factors that need to be considered are the entrepreneurial ability and availability of finance.

 

Desmodium rufescens

 

Marketing and economics

At present, almost all the flowers produced in the State are fed to internal markets. Agencies such as co-operative societies and traders arrange to collect the spikes from production points. It is estimated that a one ha size commercial orchid garden will cost Rupees one core in the first year, and thereafter about Rs. 5 lakhs from the second year. Optimally, this may net Rs. 24 lakhs in the first year, Rs. 72 lakhs in the second year, Rs. 96 lakhs in the third year and Rs. 144 lakhs annually thereafter.

 

Anthuriums

 

Habenaria perrottetiana

Anthuriums are tropical plants grown for their showy cut flowers and their attractive foliage. They are very popular with flower arrangers because of the bold effect, bright colour and long keeping quality. The genus Anthurium belonging to the family Araceae, includes over 500 species reported. Four species are more popular; A. andreanum (for cut flowers), A. scherzerianum (as potted plants), A. crystallinum (for foliage) and A. grande (for variegated foliage). The other known species include A. androphyoides, A. brownii, A. clarinervium, A. veitchii, A. pedatoradiatum, A. warocquianum and A. pittieri. The genus is a native of tropical America. The major growing countries are Hawaii (USA), Mauritius and Holland.

 

A. andreanum is one of the most important cut flowers of the world. The 'flower' consists of a colourful modified leaf called the spathe and hundreds of small spirally arranged bisexual flowers on a pencil-like structure called the spadix, arising from the base of the spathe. It is commonly known as 'candle'. Anthurium blooms throughout the year, one bloom arising from the axil of every leaf. It can be cultivated' on the ground, in beds, or in pots. Kerala possesses ideal geophysical and climatic conditions for its cultivation.

 

Varieties

For internal market, a mixture of many types and colours may not pose much problem, but for exports uniformity in all respects is required for each package.

 

A good variety should have bright, clear coloured, showy heart shaped spathe with plenty of blisters and symmetrical overlapping of basal lobes. The spadix should be reclining to the spathe at less than 30 and shorter in length than the spathe. An erect flower stem having about five times length of the spathe is considered to be a good character. The plant should be compact and produce suckers profusely. Some of the important red varieties are Ozaki, Kozohara and Kaumana from Hawaii and Can Can, Avo Rosette, Avonette, Fla Red, Fla King and Tropical from Holland. Nitta, Sunburst, Flarange, Avogino and Mauritius Orange are some of the orange varieties. Manoa Mist, Uniwai, Acropolis, Lima White, Haga White, Uranus and Fla-exotic are the common white varieties. Abe Pink, Blush, Marian Seefurth and Avo Anneke are the important pink varieties and Fantasia (cream with pink veins), Madonna (cream obake), Lambada (white-green obake), Farao (bright orange in green lans) some of the obake types.

 

Cultural requirements

Anthurium can be cultivated conveniently in earthern pots of 25-30 cm diameter. These pots should preferably have two holes at the bottom for proper drainage of water.

Lysimachia deltoids

 

Media

Highly organic, well aerated medium with good water retention capacity and drainage is used for growing anthurium. The commonly used media are sugarcane bagasse, wood shavings, leaf mould, coarse sand, small brick pieces, neem cake, coir pith compost, charcoal, coconut husk pieces, etc. They should be able to provide firm anchor to the roots, and choice depends on cost and availability. Young plants require repotting every year, while adult ones in every 2-3 years.

Anthurium can be grown as a ground plant also; in fact, in large scale growing, this is the only way. Land having gentle slope is more suitable as this avoids stagnation. Planting is done on raised beds using the same potting media as detailed above. The planting distance is 45 cm x 45 cm, allowing roughly 29,640 plants/ha The plant can be pruned to retain just four leaves without any adverse effect on flower production or quality.

Environments Anthuriums are shade loving plants, the optimum being 75-80% shade. However, this varies with cultivar, age and climate. The best climate is 25-28°C during days 18-20"C during nights and about 80% relative humidity.

 

Propagation

The most common method of propagation is by stem cuttings. Top portion of the stem with a few roots is removed and planted. The remaining part of the stem develops side shoots (suckers). By repeating this, additional plants can be obtained. But this propagation method is slow. Tissue culture provides a more rapid method of multiplication. When suckers grow to 4-5 leaf stage with 2-3 good roots, they are separated and planted.

Growing plants from seeds is a lengthy process. The seeds germinate within 6-8 days and are ready for transplanting after 4-6 months. Such plants take about two years to bloom. The plants developed from seeds also show some variability.The plants are watered twice daily during summer months. Mist or overhead sprinkler irrigation is the best. Nutrition It is better to apply the nutrients in smaller dose at frequent intervals than giving larger doses at longer intervals. Manurial applications in soil are given every alternate month. A combination of organic manure such as farm yard manure with about 2 g of 17: 17: 17:2 of the NPK and Mg/plant once or twice a month is applied by many growers. For plants growing in pots 5g complex fertilizer dissolved in 500 ml water is given to the medium once in two months. Foliar spray of 0.5-1.0% of 17: 17: 17 complex could also be given to the plants at biweekly intervals. Deficiency of calcium can cause fading of the spathe colour and so 5 g Ca/plant per month is recommended.

 

Harvesting, grading and packing

The flowers are harvested after the spathe is completely unfolded. About 8-12 flowers plant are obtained annually. They are cut with long stalks when about two-thirds of the flowers in the spadix are open. If the flowers are to be transported to long distances, a water soaked cotton may be kept at the cut end of the stalk.

Dendrobium anamalayanum

 

Plant protection

Some of the serious diseases are bacterial blight, leaf spot, anthracnose, root rot and damping off. Yellowing of the plants is the main symptom of blight. The disease is favored by warm and wet weather. To control the disease, cut and remove the diseased portion and spray streptocycline 200 mg/l. Anthracnose is a fungal disease in which the flowers rot. Mancozeb 0.2% spray can control the disease. This can control leaf spot disease also. Root rot is another major problem in anthurium. Improper aeration leads to this disease. Pests like scales, mealy bugs, thrips and mites are also common. Appropriate plant protection measures should be taken against them.

 

Potential of anthurium cultivation in Kerala

Cultivation of anthurium in homesteads as a hobby or for commercial purposes is feasible in Kerala as the climatic and soil conditions are congenial for its development. The awareness about the export potential of anthurium is fast increasing in the State.

 

Marketing systems and export prospects

Most of small scale growers in the State presently depend on private merchants or growers' societies for marketing their produce. The price realized is Rs. 5-20/flower. Harvesting is done once a week, usually. In the International market red anthuriums are in greatest demand. In the Dutch auction in 1995, the demand for the various colours were; red (40.3%), orange (11.7%), pink (15.3%), salmon (4.7%), white (12.8%), cream (2.9%), obakes (8.1%), others (4.2%). Countries like Japan, USA, UK, Germany, Holland and Italy are the major buyers.

 

Economics and cultivation

About 1000 plants can be maintained in about 150 sq.m land. The cost of establishing such a unit comes to about Rs. one lakh. About 500 flowers can be expected in a month. At the prevailing market prices, this can get an annual income of Rs. 48,000/-. The expenditure for proper maintenance may come to about Rs. 18,000/-. Thus realizing a net profit of Rs. 30,000/-. The income from the sale of planting material will be additional, to this. About 60,000 plants can be grown per hectare. Even if one plant produces only 5 spikes annually, and it is sold at Rs. 5/-per spike, the grower can fetch Rs. 1.5, million annually. The net profit can come to about Rs. 1.0 million per annum.The plants that have the ability to grow under very low levels of light are termed as indoor plants. Urbanization, has led to the trend of indoor gardening all over the world. There is now an increasing demand for various foliage plants for landscaping institutions, indoor decorations etc.

 

Plants suitable for interior decoration

Innumerable species and Varieties are available for use as indoor plants. Plants are chosen according to one's taste and environment. The ideal is small, slow growing and adaptable to changes of location and lighting.

 

Cultural practices

Satyrium nepalense

Containers Earthenware pots are most commonly used for growing indoor plants. Plastic pots, glazed clay and china pots, brass or copper containers etc. are also used. Large plants can be grown in cement or wooden planters.

 

Growing medium Natural soil is seldom used alone. It is mixed with amendments to provide desired physical characteristics. Organic materials like sphagnum moss, sawdust, coir dust, shredded bark, wood shavings or leaf mould, or inorganic aggregates such as sand, vermiculite, peat or prelate are used for this. Brick pieces, broken tiles, coconut husk pieces and charcoal are used for planting orchids, cacti, etc. Charcoal helps to prevent to some extent stagnation of water at the roots. It also prevents the plant from suffering from drought. Light intensity is the limiting factor in growing plants indoors. The minimum light intensity for maintenance of a foliage plant is that which permits the plant to function at a level slightly exceeding the compensation point at which photosynthesis is equal to respiration.The demand for light varies from plant to plant. For instance, Hedera helix a climbing house plant, thrives well in a relatively dark corner, but Sansevieria trifasciata (mother - in -law's tongue) requires a good amount of light. Dark corners of rooms which need decoration with house plants should be sufficiently lit using artificial illumination. The ideal illumination is a combination of red and blue rays. Plants exposed to much light will turn yellow and plants receiving insufficient light will grow lanky. So also, temperature and relative humidity play important roles in the health of indoor plants.

 

 

 

 

List of plants

 

Common name

Scientific name

Family

1.

Maiden hair fern

Adiantum sp.

Polypodiaceae

2.

Aglaonema/Evergreens

Aglaonema spp.

Araceae

3.

Variegated/Pineapple

Ananas bracteatus

Bromeliaceae

4.

Anthuriums

Anthurium spp.

Araceae

5.

Aralia

Aralia elegantissima

Araliaceae

6.

Asparagus

Asparagus spp.

Liliaceae

7.

Begonia

Begonia spp

Begoniaceae

8.

Calathea

Calathea spp.

Marantaceae

9.

Spider plant

Chlorophytum
comosum

Liliaceae

10.

 

Chosothemis
pulchella

Gesneriaceae

11.

 

Ctenanthe spp.

Marantaceae

12.

Earth stars

Cryptanthus sp.

Bromeliaceae

13.

Umbrella plant

Cyperus alternifolius

Cyperaceae

14.

Dumb cane

Dieffenbachia spp.

Araceae

15.

Dracaena

Dracaena spp.

Liliaceae

16.

Flame violet

Episcia cupriata

Gesneriaceae

17.

Money plant/
Golden pothos

Epipremmum aureum

Araceae

18

 

Euonymus japonica

Celastraceae

19

 

Excoecaria bicolour

Euphorbiaceae

20

Weeping Fig

Ficus benjamina

Moraceae

21.

Indian rubber tree

Ficus elastica

Moraceae

22.

Fiddle leaf tree

Ficus lyrata

Moraceae

23.

Nerve plant

Fittonia spp.

Acanthaceae

24.

Velvet creeper

Gynura aurantiaca

Asteraceae

25.

 

Leea coccinea

Leeaceae

26.

Split leaf philodendron

Monstera deliciosa

Araceae

27.

Finger nailed
bromeliad

Neoregelia carolinae

Bromeliaceae

28.

Ferns

Nephrolepis spp.

Polipodiaceae

29.

Peperomia

Peperomia spp.

Piperaceae

30.

Philodendron

Philodendron spp.

Araceae

31.

Aluminium plant

Pilea cadierei

Urticaceae

32.

Staghorn fern

Platycerum bifurcatum

 

33.

Variegated
balfour aralia

Polyscias balfouriana

Araliaceae

34.

Snake plant

Sansevieria spp.

Liliaceae

35.

Velvet pothos

Scindapsus aureus

Araceae

36.

Umbrella tree

Schefflera arboricola

Araliaceae

37.

White flag/
Peace lily

Spathiphyllum spp.

Amceae

38.

Nephytis

Syngonium podophyIlum

Araceae

39.

Bat flower or Cat's whiskers

Tacca chantrieri

 

40.

Wandering Jew

Zebrina pendula

Commelinaceae

 

Repotting:- When potted plants have grown more than one season or year the roots become a tangled mass and exhaust all the nutrients in the soil. At this stage, re-potting is done. Pruning House plants may sometimes become too big in growth. Pruning can prevent or remedy such conditions. Pruning also stimulates new shoots to emerge from the dormant growth buds closest to the cut point. Two methods are practiced-pinching and cutting back.

 

In order to control the growth of plants, root trimming is necessary. Remove l/3rd of the roots, then remove l/4th - I/3rd of the shoot also. Remove branches to permit opening up the top of the plant, to allow air circulation. Keep root-pruned plants cool and well watered for 2-3 weeks after pruning Repot in fresh soil in a similar size container. The plants should be watered as necessary. They should be checked daily to see if they need water.

 

Double potting:- This is practiced in moisture loving plants. Place the container in which the plant is growing in a larger container and fill the interspace with sphagnum moss. Keep the sphagnum moss moist. Double potting permits constant moisture without saturating the plant. The danger of over watering is reduced because the sphagnum moss draws excess moisture through the walls of the inner pot away from the roots of the plant.

 

Nutrition:- Indoor plants are usually fertilized with a mixture composed of N,P and K. Trace elements are applied only according to necessity. Some fertilizers are applied as top dressing or mixed with the medium during preparation. Liquid solutions of fertilizers are the most convenient to use. The usual method is to prepare the solution in a watering can and apply sufficient volumes to the moist medium. Correct fertilizing of container plants consists of keeping them alive and well, but not allowing them to grow too rapidly.

 

Grooming Indoor plants are displayed on areas where people are likely to spend a lot of their time. Hence such areas should look their best. Remove old leaves and spent flowers regularly Trim disproportionately long branches. Wipe the foliage periodically with a damp sponge if the plant looks dull and dusty Turn back plants regularly to keep them symmetrical and sturdy A layer of decorative mulch in the pot also will enhance the appearance of indoor plants.

 

Support and training Non climbing plants with long, slender stems need support. The simplest method of supporting such plants is to tie them to a thin stake or a split bamboo piece inserted in the centre of the pot. For better support use up to three stakes spaced equally around the edge of the pot. Pass the twine around them. Do not tie the stems tightly.

 

The climbing growth (eg. ivies) can be spiraled around different stakes. Some plants like hederas, climbing philodendrons and syngoniums produce aerial roots that grip supportive objects like tree trunk. Plants like setcreaseas, tradescantias and zebrinas that are trailers but not climbers, look attractive when trained on supports such as small trellis or wire hoops.

 

Problems

Various problems are encountered when growing plants indoors. It may be caused by environmental and cultural factors, pests, diseases or combinations. Adequate steps need to be taken to keep them in constant check.

 

Prospects

Culture of indoor plants in the tropics is a recent phenomenon resulting from urbanization and living in high-rise buildings and flats. Much R and D work requires to be done to identify suitable species and varieties and to develop appropriate cultural condition. Since the urbanization trends will only intensify in future, the scope and demand for indoor plants will only increase in the coming decades.

Orchids of Kerala forests having floricultural potential

 

Species

Status

Locality

Flowering season

Flower size (cm)

Acanthephippium bicolor

rare

Agasthyamalai,
Munnar,
Silent Valley
Wayanad

March-April (yellowishbrown)

3-3.5

Aerides crispum

rare

Munnar,
Silent Valley
Wayanad

May-June
(pinkishwhite)

2.0

Aerides maculosum

rare

 

Agasthyamalai,
Silent Valley

May-June
(pinkish violet)

2.0

Anoectochilus elatus

rare

Silent Valley

December-February
(pink & white)

1.5

Arundina graminifolia

rare

Ponmudi,
Silent Valley
Agasthyamalai

April-May
(pink)

 

3.5 - 4.0

 

Calanthe rnasuca

not common

Agasthyamalai
Silent Valley
Munnar

Throughout the year(white or pink)

2.5 - 4.5

C. triplicata

rare

Munnar

May-July (white)

2.5

Coelogyne mossiae

rare

Munnar

August-September.
(white & brown)

3.5

Cymbidium ensifolium

common

Agasthyamalai,
Silent Valley

..

..

Dendrobium heterocarpum

rare

Agasthyamalai,
Silent Valley,
Munnar

December-February
(yellowish brown)

3.0

Dendrobium aqueum

rare

 

Silent Valley,
Wayanad

April - May
(white)

3.0

 

Dendrobium jerdonianum

rare

Thirunelli,
Coorg

March-April
(yellow)

2.0

Eulophia cullenii

rare

Kallar

February-April
(yellow)

4.0

Habenaria barnesii

very rare

 

Munnar

August
September
(greenish yellow)

2.0

Paphiopedilum druryi

endangered

 

Agasthyamalai

January-March
(yellow)

4.0

 

Vanda spathulata

rare

Kollencode

July-August.
(yellow)

5.0

 
 

Rattans, Bamboos and Reeds

Bamboos, reeds and canes play important roles in the livelihood of millions of people all over Asia. The growing popularity of rattan and bamboo furniture, as well as the use of bamboo as a substitute for timber, has created a flourishing market. Their extensive use, however, has resulted in over exploitation, bringing to the fore, the issue of their sustainability

Rattans (canes)

Rattans are spiny climbing palms with characteristic scaly fruits belonging to the sub family Calamoideae. Rattans occur from almost sea level to 2000 m above MSL. Evergreen forests of Western Ghats form the natural home of rattans. Some species inhabit in the semievergreen and moist deciduous forests as well. Rattans are dioecious, ie, male and female plants are separate. Flowering is annual. Inflorescences are long and flagellate. In most of the species flowering starts in August and the fruits ripen in March-April. In India rattans are reported to have 60 species under 4 genera. Fortytwo of them are endemic to the country . Peninsular India has only one genus (Calamus) with 15 species. They are C.brandisii, C.delessertianus, C. dransfieldii, C.gamblei, C.hookeriamus, C.hugellianus, C.metzianus, C.nagabettai,C.pseudotenuis,C.neelagiricus, C.rotang,C.shenduruni, C. thwaitesii C. travancoricus and C vattayila. Among these C.delessertianus, C.dransfieldii,C.nagabettai and C.thwaitesii. are thick stemmed; C.gamblei, C.hookerianus, C.psuedotenuis,C.neelagiricus and C vattayila are medium diameter canes (1-2cm diameter) C.brandisii, C.metzianus, C.rotang and C.travancoricus are thin canes having diameter less than 1 cm. Ecosystem conservation together with large scale cultivation of rattans will guarantee the conservation of species and genetic diversity.

Bamboos and reeds

Bamboos are multipurpose woody species. They play a dominant role as woody raw material for a variety of products in the tropical regions and is considered as ‘poor man’s timber’. India ranks second in bamboo production with an annual production of 3.2 million tonnes. Bamboo provides raw materials for cottage industries and employment for millions. It is estimated that harvesting of bamboos in India itself requires about 71.25 million man-days every year. Chandrasekharan(1973) estimated that there are 985 km² of reed areas in Kerala forests. A survey by Kerala Forest Department in 1975-76 showed that there are 56 km² reed area in Thenmala, Achencoil and Arienkavu Ranges together.

18 genera and 128 species have been recorded so far from India. Out of this 8 genera and 32 species occur in peninsular India, which include 8 species, introduced and cultivated in this region. The most widely distributed genera in Kerala are Bambusa, Dendrocalamus and Ochlandra of which Ochlandra is generally known as the ‘reed bamboo’. Bambusa, is represented with one species and one variety, Bambusa bambos and B.bambos var. gigantea. Dendrocalamus are unarmed, arborescent bamboos and are represented in Kerala with a single species D.strictus.

Reeds in Kerala are belonging to the genus Ochlandra . Ochlandra is known to have nine species of which 8 species are endemic to Western Ghats. Seven species and one variety of Ochlandra have been reported so far from Kerala . They are O.beddomei, O.ebracteata, O.scriptoria, O setigera, O.sivagiriana. O.travancorica var. travancorica, O. travancorica var. hirsuta and O.wightii. O. travancorica is locally known as ‘Etta’ or ‘kareetta’

Reed Brakes

Reeds are small gregarious bamboos either in the form of clumps or climbers. They are found as large monospecific patches on hilltops and along streams or in moist pockets, intermixed with forest species. Extensive reed brakes in Kerala are seen towards the upper ghat ridges at Thiruvananthapuram division; between the Ariankavu pass and the Periyar plateau in Punalur, Konni, and Ranni divisions; and lower slops of western flank of Anamalai in Vazhachal, Malayatoor and Kothamangalam divisions.

 

BAMBOOS OF WESTERN GHATS - KERALA

Bambusa bambos
Bambusa gigantea
Bambusa spinosa
Chimonobambusa densiflora
Dendrocalamus strictus
Indocalamus walkerianus
Indocalamus wightianus
Ochlandra beddomei (endemic)
Ochlandra ebracteata (endemic)
Ochlandra scriptoria (endemic)
Ochlandra setigera (endemic)
Ochlandra sivagiriana (endemic)
Ochlandra talbotii
Ochlandra travancorica (endemic)
Ochlandra Keralensis
Ochlandra Soderstromiana
Ochlandra Spirostulis
Ochlandra Wightii
Pseudoxytenanthera bourillonii
Pseudoxytenanthera monadelpha
Pseudoxytenanthera ritchiei
Pseudoxytenanthera stocksii
Schizostachyum Beddomei
Sinanrundianaria densifolia
Sinanrundianaria floribunda
Sinanrundianaria microphylla
Sinanrundianaria wightiana

 

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