A new species of Syzygium (Myrtaceae) from the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Peninsular India Madepalli Byrappa Gowdu viswanathan



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113

ADANSONIA, sér. 3 • 2008 • 30 (1) © Publications Scientifi ques du Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Paris. 

www.adansonia.com

A new species of Syzygium (Myrtaceae) 

from the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve 

in Peninsular India

Madepalli Byrappa Gowdu VISWANATHAN

Bharathidasan University, Department of Plant Science,

Tiruchirappalli 620 024, Tamil Nadu (India)

vinaa@rediffmail.com



Ulaganathan MANIKANDAN

Manonmaniam Sundaranar University,

Sri Paramakalyani Centre for Environmental Sciences,

Alwarkurichi 627 412, Tamil Nadu (India)



KEY WORDS

Myrtaceae,



Syzygium,

Kalakkad-Mundanthurai 

Tiger Reserve,

Agastyamalai hills,

Peninsular India,

critically endangered,

new species.

Viswanathan M. B. & Manikandan U. 2008. — A new species of Syzygium (Myrtaceae) from 

the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Peninsular India. Adansonia, sér. 3, 30 (1) : 

113-118.


ABSTRACT

A new species of Myrtaceae, Syzygium agastyamalayanum M.B.Viswan. & Man-

ik., sp. nov., is described here from the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve 

in the Agastyamalai hills of the Southern Western Ghats in Peninsular India. 

Th

  is species is allied to Syzygium zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. zeylanicum by habit 



being trees, opposite leaves, terminal and axillary umbellate panicular type of 

infl orescence, fl owers in umbellules, funneliform hypanthium, 4- or 5- merous 

sepals and petals, many stamens of diff erent lengths, 2-locular ovary with 

many ovules and 1-seeded berries but diff ers by leaves being obovate, obovate-

oblanceolate or elliptic, acute at base, obtusely acute or subacute, rarely retuse 

at apex; secondary veins 14-20 pairs, without shorter intermediaries, uniform, 

prominent, brochidodromous; intramarginal vein prominent; petioles short, 

turgid, up to 4 mm long; hypanthium brown-punctate; sepals semi-circular

rounded at apex; petals reniform-orbicular, cordate or rounded at base, undulate 

at margin, obtuse at apex, punctate; berries subglobose or globose, 14.5-15 mm 

across, pink to dark black, glabrous; and seed c. 10 × 8 mm. Using IUCN Red 

List Categories and Criteria, the conservation status of the species is assessed 

as critically endangered based on the fi eld data.


114

ADANSONIA, sér. 3 • 2008 • 30 (1)

Viswanathan M. B. & Manikandan U.

INTRODUCTION

Th

 e genus Syzygium R.Br. ex Gaertn. (Myrtaceae) 



is represented by over 1200 species distributed in 

the African and Asian tropics, Malesia, Australia 

and SW Pacifi c (Parnell et al. 2007) wherein 108 

species are present in India (Duthie 1878-1879) 

and 30 (Ashton 1981) or 31 species in Sri Lanka 

(Kostermans 1981). Of which, 12 species and 

one subspecies were regarded as endemics. Sub-

sequently, two Sri Lankan endemics, S. makul 

Gaertn. and S. neesianum Arn., were reported from 

Silent Valley in the Palakkad (Palghat) District 

of Kerala State, India ( Manilal & Sabu 1984). 

Over the last several decades, 10 additional spe-

cies have been described from India, including 

S. periyarensis Jomy & Sasidharan (Sasidharan & 

Jomy 1999) and S. parameswaranii Mohanan & 

Henry (Mohanan & Henry 1987) from Kerala 

State, S. zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. ellipticum Henry, 

Chandrabose & N.C.Nair (Henry et al. 1980), 

S. sriganesanii Ravikumar & Lakshmanan and 

S. zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. megamalayanum Ra-

vikumar & Lakshmanan from Tamil Nadu State 

(Ravikumar 1999). In 1987, Chithra reported 30 

species and three varieties from Tamil Nadu State 

in India. Murugan et al. (2002), while reporting 

S. neesianum Arn. from Tamil Nadu State, inadvert-

ently indicated that their report was an addition to 

the Indian fl ora. Further, the twig (Fig. 1A) diff ers 

from that of the type (BM000754861, Natural 

History Museum, London, and Wight [1843: 

t. 533; 1850: t. 15]). Several researchers, includ-

ing the authors of the present paper, have collected 

S. parameswaranii Mohanan & Henry from Tamil 

Nadu State (Mohanan & Henry 1987). One more 

new species, S. agastyamalayanum, is described 

here by us from the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai 

Tiger Reserve in India. Altogether, the genus in 

Tamil Nadu State now comprises 33 species and 

four varieties, with 13 species shared by the Indian 

and Sri Lankan fl oras.



RÉSUMÉ

Une nouvelle espèce de Syzygium (Myrtaceae) de la Réserve de tigres de Kalakkad-

Mundanthurai en Inde péninsulaire.

Une nouvelle espèce de Myrtaceae, Syzygium agastyamalayanum M.B.Viswan. & 

Manik., sp. nov., est décrite de la Réserve de tigres de Kalakkad-Mundanthurai, 

située dans les collines d’Agastyamalai, au sud des Ghâts occidentaux d’Inde 

péninsulaire. Cette espèce est proche de Syzygium zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. zeyla-

nicum par son port arborescent, ses feuilles opposées, son infl orescence terminale 

ou axillaire de type ombellé-paniculé, ses fl eurs en ombellules, son hypanthium 

tubulaire, ses sépales et pétales 4- ou 5-mères, la présence de nombreuses étamines 

inégales, un ovaire biloculaire multiovulé et des baies uniséminées ; mais elle en 

diff ère par ses feuilles obovales, obovales-oblancéolées ou elliptiques, aiguës à la 

base, et obtusément aiguës ou subaiguës, rarement émarginées à l’apex ; ses 14-20 

paires de nervures secondaires, sans nervilles plus courtes, uniformes, saillantes, 

brochidodromes ; la nervure intramarginale proéminente ; les pétioles courts, 

robustes, mesurant jusqu’à 4 mm de long ; l’hypanthium ponctué de brun ; les 

sépales semi-circulaires, arrondis à l’apex ; les pétales réniformes-orbiculaires, 

cordés ou arrondis à la base, à marge ondulée, obtus à l’apex, tachetés ; les baies 

plutôt globuleuses, de 14,5-15 mm de diamètre, roses à noires, glabres ; et la 

graine d’environ 10 × 8 mm. Cette espèce est, d’après les données de terrain, 

estimée comme en danger critique d’extinction, selon les critères et catégories 

de la liste rouge de l’UICN.

MOTS CLÉS

Myrtaceae,



Syzygium,

Réserve de tigres de 

Kalakkad-Mundanthurai,

collines d'Agastyamalai,

Inde péninsulaire,

en danger critique 

d'extinction,

espèce nouvelle.



115

A new Syzygium (Myrtaceae) from India

ADANSONIA, sér. 3 • 2008 • 30 (1)

MATERIALS AND METHODS

During an intensive botanical survey of the Kalakkad-

Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu State 

of India, the senior author collected fl owering and 

fruiting specimens of a species of Syzygium that did 

not match any of the described species of Syzygium 

in the world. Based on a scrutiny of published and 

available literatures, we therefore described the plant 

from the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve 

as a new species.

SYSTEMATICS



Syzygium agastyamalayanum 

M.B.Viswan. & Manik., sp. nov.

(Fig. 1)

Syzygium zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. zeylanicum affi



  nis, 

sed foliis obovatis, obovato-oblanceolatis vel ellipticis, base 

acutis, apice obtuse acutis vel subacutis, rare retusis; nervis 

secondariis 14-20 paribus sine nervis intermediis, uniformibus 

ad distinctum nervum intramarginalem conjunctis; petiolis 

turgidis, ad 4 mm longis; hypanthium brunneo-punctatis, 

sepalis semicircularibus, apice rotundatis; petalis reniformi-

orbiculariis, base cordatis vel rotundatis, margine undulatis, 

apice obtusis, punctatis; baccis subglobosis vel globosis, 

14.5-15 mm in diam., roseus ad atro-nigricus, glabris et 

seminibus c. 10 × 8 mm, diff ert.

T

YPUS



. — India, Tamil Nadu State, Kalakkad-Mundan-

thurai Tiger Reserve (8°20’-8°53’N, 77°10’-77°35’E), 

Upper Kodayar, c. 900 m, 23.I.1999, Viswanathan 3204 

(holo-, MH; iso-, herbarium of the Department of Plant 

Science, Bharathidasan University).

P

ARATYPES



. — India, Tamil Nadu State, Kalakkad-Mun-

danthurai Tiger Reserve (8°20’-8°53’N, 77°10’-77°35’E), 

Agastiyar Peak, c. 1700 m, 14.IV.1999, Viswanathan 

3596 (herbarium of the Sri Paramakalyani Centre for 

Environmental Sciences).

D

ESCRIPTION



Trees, up to 15 m high; branchlets many, 4-angled 

at fi rst, later subterete, lenticellate; internodes 8-32 × 

2-7 mm. Leaves opposite, obovate, obovate-oblanceo-

late or elliptic, 3-6.6 × 1.5-2.9 cm, coriaceous, acute at 

base, recurved at margin, obtusely acute or subacute, 

rarely retuse at apex, glabrous; midrib canaliculate 

above, prominently raised beneath, terete; second-

ary veins 14-20 pairs, opposite, brochido dromous; 

intramarginal vein prominent; petiole turgid, 2-4 × 

1-1.5 mm, glabrous. Infl orescences both terminal and 

axillary umbellate panicles, 3-4 × 3-4.5 cm, glabrous; 

peduncles 4-angled, glabrous; primary axes 5-10 × 

1-1.5 mm; secondary axes 5-8 × 0.8-1 mm. Flowers 

10-20 in each umbellule; pedicels 2-6 × 1-1.5 mm, 

slender. Hypanthium funneliform, c. 2.5 × 4.5 mm, 

brown-punctate. Sepals 4 or 5, semi-circular in outline



c. 1 × 2.5 mm, entire at margin, rounded at apex, 

glabrous. Petals 4 or 5, white, concave, reniform-or-

bicular, 2-2.8 × 2.4-2.6 mm, membranous, cordate 

or rounded at base, undulate at margin, obtuse at 

apex, punctate, glabrous; punctate numerous. Sta-

mens many, of diff erent lengths, 2.7-7.5 × 0.7-1 mm, 

glabrous; fi laments yellow, 1.8-6 × 0.4-1.1 mm, in-

curved; anthers yellow, reniform, c. 1.1 × 0.9 mm. 

Ovary obovate, fl eshy, c. 3.8 × 2.5 mm; locules 2; 

ovules many; style yellow, glabrous; stigma minute. 

Berries pink to dark black, subglobose or globose, 

15-17 × 14.5-15 mm, glabrous. Seed pale brown, 

solitary, subglobose, c. 10 × 8 mm, glabrous.

D

ISTRIBUTION



A strict endemic of the Kalakkad-Mundanthurai 

Tiger Reserve in the Tamil Nadu State in the 

Agastyamalai hills of the Southern Western Ghats 

in Peninsular India.

H

ABITAT


 

AND


 

ECOLOGY


Th

  is species occurs in southern tropical wet evergreen 

forests in association with several tree species, includ-

ing Aglaia elaeagnoidea (Juss.) Benth. var. bourdillonii 

(Gamble) N.C.Nair, Euphorbia vajravelui Binojk. & 

N.P.Balakr., Saprosma corymbosum (Bedd.) Bedd., 



Vernonia travancorica Hook.f. and Wendlandia bicus-

pidata Wight & Arn. and with the following shrub, 

Sarcandra chloranthoides Gardner, herbs of Impatiens 

hensloviana Arn., Sonerila sadasivanii M.P.Nayar, 

S. tinnevelliensis Fischer, and S. travancorica Bedd. as 

well as the parasite Balano phora  indica  (Arn.) Griff . 

var. agastyamalayana M.B.Viswan., Prem Kumar & 

Ramesh and the epiphyte Dendrobium panduratum 

Lindl. subsp. villosum Gopalan & Henry.

P

HENOLOGY



Flowering in January and February; fruiting in 

March and April.



116

ADANSONIA, sér. 3 • 2008 • 30 (1)

Viswanathan M. B. & Manikandan U.

A

B



C

D

E



F

G

H



I

J

K



L

M

F



IG

. 1. — Syzygium agastyamalayanum M.B.Viswan. & Manik., sp. nov.: 



A, habit (fl owering twig); B, bud; C, fl ower without petals; 

D, sepal (dorsal side); E, petal (dorsal side); F, petal (ventral side); GH, stamens; I, ovary; J, longitudinal section of ovary; K, trans-

verse section of ovary; 



L, berry; M, seed. A-K, Viswanathan 3204; L, M, Viswanathan 3596. Scale bars: A, L, 10 mm; B, C, I, J, 5 mm; 

D, 1 mm; E-H, 2 mm; K, 2.5 mm; M, 11 mm.

C

ONSERVATION



 

STATUS


Field observations made between 1998 and 2002 

indicate that Syzygium agastyamalayanum has an 

area extent (as defi ned by IUCN 2001) of less than 

100 km


2

 (B1); severely fragmented subpopula-

tions (a); extreme fl uctuation (c); only two locations 

(iii) and does not exceed 50 mature individuals (iv). 

Using the IUCN Red List Criteria (IUCN 2001), 

we assess the conservation status of the species as 

critically endangered (CR).


117

A new Syzygium (Myrtaceae) from India

ADANSONIA, sér. 3 • 2008 • 30 (1)

T

ABLE



 1. — Characters distinguishing Syzygium agastyamalayanum M.B.Viswan. & Manik., sp. nov. from S. zeylanicum (L.) DC. var. 

zeylanicum.

Characters

S. agastyamalayanum

S. zeylanicum var. zeylanicum

Leaves


obovate, obovate-oblanceolate or elliptic, 

acute at base, obtusely acute or subacute, 

rarely retuse at apex

ovate, ovate-lanceolate or elliptic-lanceolate, 

rounded or narrowed at base, acuminate at 

apex


Secondary veins

14-20 pairs, without shorter intermediaries, 

uniform, prominent, brochidodromous

10-14 pairs, with shorter intermediaries, 

not uniform, obscure, not brochidodromous

Intramarginal vein prominent

obscure

Petioles


short, turgid, up to 4 mm long

well-developed, slender, up to 7 mm long

Hypanthium

brown-punctate

grey-pruinose

Sepals


semi-circular, rounded at apex

ovate, obtuse or subacute at apex

Petals

reniform-orbicular, cordate or rounded at base, 



undulate at margin, obtuse at apex, punctate

broadly orbicular, truncate at base, entire at 

margin, rounded or obtusely acute at apex, 

not punctate

Berries

subglobose or globose, 14.5-15 mm across, 



pink to dark black, glabrous

broadly ellipsoid or subglobose, 4-8 mm 

across, white, pruinose

Seed size



c. 10 × 8 mm

c. 6.5 × 5.5 mm

E

TYMOLOGY



Syzygium agastyamalayanum is so named because 

it comes from the Agastyamalai Hills from where 

type specimen was collected.

R

EMARKS



Syzygium agastyamalayanum M.B.Viswan. &  Manik., 

sp. nov. most closely resembles S. zeylanicum (L.) 

DC. var. zeylanicum. However, distinguishing char-

acters are shown in Table 1.



Acknowledgements

Th

  e authors are grateful to the Ministry of Envi-



ronment & Forests, New Delhi, for funding the 

project, Dr Victoria Noble, Curator of Flowering 

Plants at BM, for having provided scanned images 

(BM000754861-3) and Prof. Simon Owens, Keeper 

at K, and Dr P. Lakshminarasimhan, Indian Liaison 

Offi

  cer based at K, and Dr H. J. Chowdhery, Joint 



Director, Central National Herbarium at CAL, for 

cibachromes of type specimens. Th

 e authors heartily 

thank the scientists of Botanical Survey of India, 

Coimbatore in particular Dr P. Daniel, then Joint 

Director, for permission to refer MH and Dr V. 

J. Nair, Scientist Emeritus, for preparing the latin 

diagnosis. Literature help of Dr A. G. Pandurangan, 

Head, Plant Systematics & Evolutionary Science 

at TBGT, is gratefully acknowledged. Th

 e authors 

sincerely thank Mr R. P. S. Katwal I. F. S., former 

Chief Wildlife Warden, Chennai, and Dr V. K. 

Melkani I. F. S., former Field Director and Con-

servator of Forests, Project Tiger, Tirunelveli, for 

permission to carry out the fi eld research and to 

collect specimens. Mr S. S. Mariappan is thanked 

for the illustration.

REFERENCES

A

SHTON



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 M. 

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OHANAN



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Submitted on 13 July 2007;

accepted on 4 March 2008.


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