Nov 20, 2011 at 11:32am IST

Kerala: 6 plant species critically endangered

KOZHIKODE: International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which released its latest Red List of various species last week, has listed six species of plants being found in the state in the ‘Critically Endangered’ category.
A total of 14 plants have been included in the category from India. Fimbristylis hirsutifolia, Ischaemum jayachandranii, Nymphoides macrospermum, Nymphoides sivarajanii, Eriocaulon sivarajanii, and Rotala malabarica are the plants from the state included in the Red List.
Apart from the Fimbristylis hirsutifolia, which is also found in Karnataka, all the other five species are endemic to Kerala. Jomy Augustin, Head of the Department of Botany at St Thomas College, Pala, and a member of the IUCN team that prepared the Red List from the state, said: “Though no plants have been named in the category of ‘Extinct’ or ‘Extinct in the wild’ from the state, the number of plants in the critically endangered and endangered list is a matter of concern.”
The study says that Fimbristylis hirsutifolia and Nymphoides sivarajanii found at single different locations in the Malappuram district, have not been recorded for over two decades. The Red List points out  that these species might be extinct owing to severe threat from laterite mining, reclamation of paddy fields etc. Urbanisation was pointed out as the reason for the decline in the population of Eriocaulon Sivarajanii, another plant named in the list which grows in moist places and wet flushes on the coastal plains of Kozhikode.
In the case of Ischaemum Jayachandranii, endemic to Kannur District, it says that the plant has not been recorded even after repeated surveys for the past three decades.
Another plant species, Rotala malabarica, a short-lived annual plant also endemic to Kannur, has not been recorded since its description and there is every chance of the plant being extinct owing to the anti environmental activities in its habitat, Red List points out.
Nymphoides macrospermum confined to Aluva is the only plant species being named from the southern part of the state in the critically endangered list. Study reveals that though repeated studies have conducted, the plant has not been traced for the last four decades.
In the Endangered category list, a total of 25 plants species from India have been listed, out of which 13 are from Kerala. Out of the total 63 plant species being enlisted in the vulnerable category from the country, 32 are from the state. Besides, 13 plant species from Kerala have also found their place in the near-threatened list of plant species.

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