Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 February 2018 | 10(2): 11351–11353





Conserving the newly recorded Hill Arecanut Palm Bentinckia condapanna Berry ex Roxb (Arecaceae) population outside the natural forest as wildlife corridor


M. Divin Murukesh 1 & Ajith Ashokan 2


1 Centre for Conservation Ecology, Department of Zoology, M.E.S. Mampad College, Malappuram, Kerala 676542, India

1 Wildlife Research and Conservation Trust, Anupallavi, Chungathara, Nilambur, Kerala 679334, India

1 Kerala State Biodiversity Board, L-14, Jai Nagar, Medical College P.O, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, 695 011, India

2 Puthuval Vila House, Cherunniyoor P.O, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala 695142, India

1 (corresponding author), 2




Editor: B. Ravi Prasad Rao, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapuramu, India. Date of publication: 26 February 2018 (online & print)

Manuscript details: Ms # 2964 | Received 13 August 2016 | Final received 10 September 2017 | Finally accepted 31 January 2018

Citation: Murukesh, M.D. & A. Ashokan (2018). Conserving the newly recorded Hill Arecanut Palm Bentinckia condapanna Berry ex Roxb (Arecaceae) population outside the natural forest as wildlife corridor. Journal of Threatened Taxa 10(2): 11351–11353;

Copyright: © Murukesh & Ashokan 2018. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.

Funding: WRCT Plan Fund.

Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to Mr. S. Suresh, Dr. K.S. Anoop Das, Dr. P. Rajan and Dr. P. Balakrishnan for their comments on early versions of the manuscript. We also thank Senthil, Karthik and Kuttan Ambika for their support during the field work.




Bentinckia condapanna is an endemic and vulnerable Hill Arecanut Palm of the southern Western Ghats of Kerala and Tamil Nadu (Johnson 1998). The species grows on steep rocky slopes of evergreen forests and recorded from Agastyamala and Peppara (Thiruvananthapuram), Kulathupuzha (Kollam), Moozhiyar and Kakki (Pathanamthitta) and Pachakkanam, Uppupara and Peerumedu (Idukki) in Kerala (Renuka 1999; Varghese & Menon 1999). It is locally known as Condapana, Kanakamuku, Vareikamuku, Kanthakamuku and Parapakku.

During field exploration in Shendurney forest range at Thenmala, Kollam District in March 2013, we observed a population of Bentinckia condapanna (Image 1) in Arundel-Priya Estate, which is an abandoned tea plantation. Owing to the highly restricted distribution and vulnerable status of this species, the observation of this hitherto unknown population amidst an abandoned agricultural matrix has immense significance in conserving the species.

Bentinckia condapanna is a monoecious palm which grows up to 20m tall. The stem measures 20cm girth and annulate. The leaves are pinnately compound. The caudex is 2–3 m across. Leaflets are linear-lanceolate, 50–70 x 3­–5 cm, evenly scattered and sessile. The sheath is rounded and encircling the stem. Spadix is axillary and branched with numerous spathes. Male flowers measured up to 0.25cm size and are small and sunken in the spirally arranged pits towards the tips of branches. Female flowers measured as 0.38–0.51 cm sized and are larger towards the base of spadix. The ovary is 3-celled. The fruit is sub-spherical which turns purple when ripe (Image 2). The terminal buds and juvenile leaves are edible (Mohanan & Henry 1994).

The observed population consists of 76 adult palms and 66 seedlings, spread over an area of 500m2. It is located on a slanting rock along the side of the Kazhuthurutty-Arundel-Achankoil road (9.028083330N & 77.106944440E), now proposed for widening and alteration. Although the palm is reported to grow at an elevation of 1,000–2,000 m (Renuka et al. 1996; Kulkarni & Mulani 2004), the current population is at 622m. The mean temperature of the region is 25±2 0C. Several small water currents originating from the rock cliffs keep the habitat humid and the soil loamy. The average height of the adult palms 6.3±2.4 m with GBH 53.20±15.54 cm. During our survey, 90% of the mature palms were fruiting, including individuals of one meter height (Image 3). The associated flora included—(other palms) Arenga wightii, Calamus hookerianus, Calamus thwaitesii and Pinanga dicksonii, and (trees) Actinodaphne malabarica, Antidesma montanum, Aporosa acuminata, Baccaurea courtallensis, Cinnamomum malabatrum, Dimocarpus longan, Garcinia morella, Holigarna arnottiana, Vepris bilocularis, Vitex altissima, Xanthophyllum arnottianum and (other climbers/large shrubs) like Derris brevipes, Meiogyne ramarowii, and Psychotria bisulcata. Local community opined that these plants are a relic of a once widespread population. Changes in land use pattern and anthropogenic pressure might be the reason for the shrinkage of the population. Frugivorous birds such as Malabar Grey Hornbill Ocyceros griseus, White-cheeked Barbet Megalaima viridis, Malabar Barbet Megalaima malabarica and Grey-fronted Green Pigeon Treron affinis and mammals such as bats (Chiroptera) and Bonnet Macaques Macaca radiata were observed feeding on the fruits of this palm. Even though there are rocky cliffs suitable for this species around the observed population in Priya Estate, no seedlings were found in such habitats during our survey. It may be due to poor dispersal of seeds and/or the deficiency of mycorrhizal fungi, which are critical for their survival (Vijayakumar & Abraham 1998).

Six estates including Priya Estate around the Aryankavu pass are proposed for establishing potential corridors for the passage of Elephants and Tigers (Anonymous 2011). The report of the population of Bentinckia condapanna from an abandoned tea estate reiterates the importance of the area as a potential centre for biodiversity conservation.






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