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Phytosociology and plant diversity of the Attappady hills, Western Ghats, India

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Phytosociology and plant diversity of the Attappady hills, Western Ghats, India
K. A. Anilkumar


Department of Botany, Kannur University, Kannur 670 002, INDIA.


Attappady hills, a part of Nilagiri phyto-geograpical region of Western Ghats, possess specialized ecosystems. Variations in floristic composition and structure, physiognomy due to cumulative climatic, physiographic and edaphic features influence in the formation the uniqueness. Most of the areas of the ecosystem are highly disturbed due to various anthropogenic factors. Last two decades, AHADS was doing afforestation programmes and protective measures to conserve the plant diversity in some regions of Attappady hills. However, till to date there is no comprehensive work on the vegetation of this major ecosystem of Attappady hills.

Phytosociological studies were done by laying out sample plots in different forest areas. Frequency, Density and abundance of the species were studied quadrat by quadrat. Importance value index (IVI) was calculated using the standard method (Curtis and McIntosh, 1950). Diversity Indices like Simpson’s index, modified Simpson’s index and Shannon-Wiener’s function were calculated using procedures Simpson (1949) and Shannon (1963). For each area the major species showing higher values of Density, Abundance, Relative Frequency, Relative Density, Percentage Frequency, Basal area, Importance value Index and Relative Importance Value Index were detailed. The Simpson’s Index and Shannon-Wiener's Index were given for knowing the diversity of sampling area and the same was compared with other sampling areas.

The present floristic study in Attappady resulted in the collection, identification and description of 1670 taxa of flowering plants consisting of 1661 species, 2 subspecies and 7 variety belongs to belonging to 818 genera and 160 Families have been recorded form Attappady.

Three new species viz. Clematis udayanii Anilkumar, Oxalis varadimalayana Anilkumar & Udayan, Gentiana kurumbae Anilkumar et Udayan sp. nov. (ined.). were reported. Conopodium, new Genus report to Asian continent with one new species.(Conopodium sp. nov). Gnidia glauca (Fresen.) Gilg var. sisparensis (Gardner) Kumari (Thymelaeaceae), after a lapse of 148 years and Helichrysum wightii Clarke ex Hook. f. (Asteraceae) was rediscovered after 131 years. 9 species and 1 variety were new reports to Kerala. 206 species were reported as new records to the Palakkad district.

There were 387 endemics belonging to 224 genera, 177 species endemic to Southern Western Ghats, 101 endemic to Western Ghats, 14 endemic to South India, 78 endemic to Peninsular India, 15 species endemic to India, 1 species endemic to south-west India. 1 species Vateria macrocarpa Gupta endemic and was known only from the study area.

The occurrence of 33% of flowering plants reported from Kerala from 2 % area must receive attention. This shows the potential of the degraded Attappady valley in reaching higher serals of succession. This hypothesis was further revitalized by phytosociological data. Strict implementation of restoration and afforestation activities certainly will be remembered gratefully by future generations.