Department of Botany, St. Berchmans (SB) College, Changanacherry, Kottayam-686101, Kerala, India.
PG Department of Botany, Deva Matha College, Kuravilangad, Kottayam-686633, Kerala, India.
Plant Systematics & Genetic Resources Division, Centre for Medicinal Plants Research (CMPR), AVS, Kottakkal,
The present investigation on the floristic diversity of sacred groves of Moonamkadavu, Kasaragod district of Kerala
resulted in the documentation of 6 Rare, Endemic and Threatened (RET) plants. All the important details of these plants such
as correct nomenclature, synonyms, family, habit, description and their specific notes were also discussed in this paper. The
conservation of such precious sacred groves is an urgent need for future generation.
Keywords: Sacred groves, Microhabitats, Rare, Endemic, Threatened plants.
Sacred groves are very ancient and widespread
comparatively undisturbed condition, due to faith and
other religious believes. In other views, these are forest
patches conserved by the local people intertwined with
their socio-cultural and religious practices. These groves
play a significant role in the conservation of biodiversity
. Such groves are the microhabitat with habitat specific
flora and fauna. The vegetation composing the sacred
groves is very different from that of the surrounding areas
of the region . Plant worshiping is one of the earliest
religious trends since the time ancient. Numerous
references are available in literature where plants are
treated as to the abode of the gods . In the scriptures,
these plants are mention of the Kalpavrisksha and
an Indian tradition. These plants are often grown along
and within the temples and can be considered as “sacred
Most of the studies on sacred groves in India are
such groves provide excellent micro-climatic conditions
for the luxuriant growth of those plants which are not
present in the surrounding areas at the same altitude.
Because of this several taxa exhibit remarkable
microhabitat-specific nature which can be attributed to the
local environmental conditions . Some species are
highly sensitive even to the smallest changes in the
environmental conditions of these microhabitats. Such
groves are distributed over a wide ecosystem and also
help in conservation of rare and endemic species .
Moonamkadavu, Kasaragod district, Kerala
Moonamkadavu, Kasaragod district, Kerala is
The area has a tropical humid climate. The hot season
extends from March to the end of May. This is followed
by the Southwest monsoon, which continues up to
August. The Northeast monsoon, which extends from
October up to December. During hotseason, the mean
daily maximum temperature is about 35
C. The average
C during December-
percent of it occurs during the period of Southwest
The present investigation was undertaken from
Corresponding Author:- Binu Thomas Email:-email@example.com
Kerala. The plant specimens along with photographs are
collected from the study area. All the important details
including correct nomenclature, synonyms, family, habit,
description and their specific notes were given with the
help of available Floras and literature [8, 9, 10, 11]. The
voucher specimens were prepared as per standard
procedure  and deposited at Herbaria of Department
of Botany, SB College, Changanacherry, Kerala for future
studies and reference.
Herb, to 15-25 cm long. Leaves few, scattered, to
tomentose beneath; petiole to 2 cm long; sheath saccate.
Spike to 5 cm long, terminal, one sided; bracts 20 x 8
mm, obovate, obtuse; bracteoles tubular, deeply cleft to
the base. Flowers solitary in each bracts; calyx tube short,
truncate; corolla tube 15 mm long; lobes equal, 10 x 4
mm, oblong; lip 20 x 15 mm, obovate, acute, white with
brown spots; lateral staminodes 10 x 5 mm obovate;
filaments 2 mm long; anthers parallel, not crested; ovary
3-celled, oblong; ovules few; style filiform. Fruit an
Notes: Endemic to Southern Western Ghats [9, 10];
According to Nayar, its status is considered as
Trees up to 18 m tall, bark thin smooth, flaky,
simple, alternate, spiral; stipules caducous; petiole stout,
terete, whitish tomentose, 1.3 cm long; lamina 11-31 x
2.5-7.5 cm, narrow oblong to oblong, apex bluntly acute
or acuminate, often rounded, base rounded or subcordate,
chartaceous or subcoriaceous; secondary nerves 7-12
pairs, gradually curved; tertiary nerves reticulo-
percurrent. Inflorescence panicled racemes, glabrous;
flowers white.Nut with 3 shorter and 2 longer accrescent
calyx lobes; seeds 1.
According to IUCN , its status is considered as
Medium sized tree, Leaves are simple, opposite,
shortly decurrent on the 2 cm long petiole. Leaf measures
9-18 cm in length and 6-9 cm in breadth. It has 12- 15
pairs of lateral nerves. Flowers occur in the axils of leaves
in corymbose cymes of 5-8 cm long. They are very small,
only 3 mm across. The white petals form a calyptra (cap)
in the bud enclosing the stamens. Fruits 0.7-1 cm across,
purplish to maroon-red.
Critically Endangered (CR).
Large trees up to 16 m tall, bark large corky
branchletsterete, glabrous. Leaves compound, trifoliate,
alternate, spiral; rachis canaliculate in cross section,
cm, narrow elliptic, apex long acuminate with blunt tip,
base slightly attenuate, margin entire, coriaceous; midrib
nearly flat above; intramarginal nerves present; secondary
nerves nearly straight parallel; tertiary nerves usually
admedialyramified.Inflorescence panicles, terminal or
axillary; flowers unisexual, dioecious, sessile.Berry,
fleshy, globose, 2 celled, gland dotted; seeds 1-2 per cell.
According to Ahemdullah & Nayar  its status is
considered as rare.
Cycas wallichii Miq.
Small palm with arborescent stems, to 5 m tall.
with 170 leaflets, tomentum shedding as leaf expands.
Male cones narrowly ovoid, orange, 45 cm long, 10 cm
diam.; microsporophyll lamina firm, not dorsiventrally
thickened, 38-50 mm long, 12-19 mm wide, apical spine
Megasporophylls with female cones about 30 cm long,
lanceolate, 74-100 mm long, 25-38 mm wide, regularly
distinct from lateral spines. Seeds subglobose, 25-38 mm
Notes: Endemic to Peninsular India .
Thoa edulis Willd.
Woody climber, Leaves elliptic, with netted
catkin-like formations; male flower consists of a stamen
and perianth, and female flower of an ovule with 2
integuments and perianth (2, 9).
(Wight &Arn.) Engl. G. Habit; H. Bark; I. Twig.
The present study resulted in the collection of 6
Rare, Endemic, Threatened plants species from the sacred
grove at Moonamkadavu, kasaragod District, Kerala.
They are Boesenbergia pulcherrima (Wall.) O. Ktze.
(Dipterocarpaceae), Syzygium travancoricum Gamble
(Rutaceae), Cycas circinalis L. (Cycadaceae) and Gnetum
Among these, B. pulcherrima, H. ponga, S.
Western Ghats . The status of B. pulcherrima is
considered as threatened by Nayar . According to
IUCN , the status of H. ponga is treated as as
endangered and S. travancoricum is critically endangered.
According to Ahemdullah & Nayar , the status of V.
viz. G. ula and C. circinalis are gymnosperms and they
are endemic to Peninsular India [10, 17]
Sacred groves have become fragmented habitats
rare, threatened, endangered and endemic plant and
animal species. The major threats to these existing
ecosystems are habitat destruction, habitat alternation,
over increasing population and over exploitation,
introduction of exotic species and pollution has resulted in
the decline of sacred groves. The conservation of such
precious sacred groves is an urgent need for future
The authors are indebted to Dr. N. Sasidharan,
(KFRI), Thrissur District, Kerala for giving the image of
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