Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 December 2021 | 13(14): 20288–20291


ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print)

#7376 | Received 29 April 2021 | Final received 08 December 2021 | Finally accepted 11 December 2021



Two additions to the flora of Kerala, India


P. Murugan 1, Basil Paul 2 & M. Sulaiman 3


1–3 Botanical Survey of India, Southern Regional Centre, TNAU campus,Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu 641003, India.

1 (corresponding author), 2, 3




Editor: Anonymity requested.   Date of publication: 26 December 2021 (online & print)


Citation: Murugan, P., B. Paul & M. Sulaiman (2021). Two additions to the flora of Kerala, India. Journal of Threatened Taxa 13(14): 20288–20291.


Copyright: © Murugan et al. 2021. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, New Delhi.


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: Authors are thankful to Dr. A.A. Mao, director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, for constant support and Dr. M.U. Sharief, scientist-e & head of office, Southern Regional Centre, Coimbatore for facilities and also Dr. C. Murugan, scientist-e, BSI, SRC, Coimbatore for the guidance and valuable comments. We extend our thanks to the Forest Department of Kerala, India for permission and necessary help during the field study and also grateful to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Govt. India, New Delhi, for the financial support under Flora of India project.




Agasthyamalai, a compact block of hill range on the southern most end of the Western Ghats falls within the Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala state. It lies between 8.500–8.733N latitude and 77.083– 77.300E longitude and spreads over a geographical area of c. 200 km2. It descends steeply westwardly from the highest peak of Agasthyarkoodam with an altitude of 1,868 m in the east, to 300–400 m high hilly forest areas of Thiruvananthapuram district in the west, Tirunelveli district in the east, Kanyakumari district in south. The Agasthyamalai harbours more than 1,100 species of flowering plants which includes c. 320 species (28%) are found to be endemic to India. Of these, 46 species are reported and restricted to Agasthyamalai regions of Kerala state (Mohanan & Sivadasan 2002).

In a recent botanical exploration in Agasthyamalai, Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala, the authors collected two specimens belongs to the genera Acilepis D.Don and Psychotria L., respectively. After critical study with relevant literatures and protologue (Chelladurai & Gopalan 2001; Murugan & Gopalan 2007), these were identified as Acilepis pothigaiana (Chellad. & Gopalan) Kottaim. and Psychotria henryana Murugan & Gopalan which are found in the eastern slopes of Agasthiamalai, Tamil Nadu state. On perusal of literature (Mohanan & Henry 1994; Mohanan & Sivadasan 2002; Sasidharan 2004, 2013; Nayar et al. 2006, 2014) revealed that these two species have so far not been reported from Kerala state, and hence they constitute new distribution records for state. Its short description along with nomenclature notes, distribution, image, phenology is provided for the further collection and identification in the field.



Acilepis pothigaiana (Chellad. & Gopalan) Kottaim. (Image 1)

Telopea 18: 376. 2015. Vernonia pothigaiana Chellad. & Gopalan in J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 25: 271. 2001; Singh et al. End. Vasc. Pl. India: 115. 2015.

Type: India, Tamil Nadu, Tirunelveli District: Pothigaimalai peak (Agasthiamalai), ±1868 m, 06.ii.1989, R. Gopalan 88741 (Holo: CAL image!; Iso: MH!).

Large herbs to shrubs, up to 1.2 m high; branchlets grooved or 6–10 ribbed, young parts woolly white powdery tomentose. Leaves simple, spirally alternate, elliptic-lanceolate or lanceolate, 3–10 × 1.5–3 cm, glabrous above, woolly white tomentum beneath, attenuate at base, margins distantly glandular serrate and revolute, acute-acuminate with mucronate at apex; lateral nerves 8–10 pairs; petioles up to 2 cm long, flat above, rounded below. Inflorescence terminal or axillary, lax, panicled cymes up to 12 cm long; peduncles up to 6 cm long, ribbed; capitula, 1–1.5 long; Phyllaris 20–25 in 4–5 seriate; outermost 1-seriate 1–4, up to 1 mm long, triangular, margins ciliate, apex at mucronate; second seriate 5–11, up to 2.5 mm long, ovate, ciliate along margins; third seriate 12–16, up to 3 mm long, oblong or oblong to ovate, ciliate at margins; fourth seriate 17–19, up to 4 mm long, oblong-ovate, obtuse and apiculate at apex, 3-ribbed; fifth seriate 20–21, up to 4.5 mm long, concave, obtuse and apiculate at apex, tri-nerved; innermost seriate 22–25, 4–5 mm long, oblanceolate or spathulate, hyaline, obtuse and apiculate at apex, tri-nerved; pedicels 2–8 mm long, ribbed. Disc florets bisexual, homogamous. Corolla 8–10 mm long, infundibuliformis; lobes 5, 4–5 mm long, oblong-laceolate or linear-lanceolate, hyaline, margins at entire with thick layer, apex at acute. Stamens 5, syngenesious; filaments alternate to the corolla lobes, 0.5–1 mm long; anthers 2–3 mm long, oblong-linear, tailed at base, acute at apex. Ovary oblong-obovate, ca 2 mm long, 8–10 ribbed; style 6–8 mm long, filiform; stigma 2–3 mm long, arms, feathery or hairy. Achene oblong-obovate, 2–3 mm long, 8–10 ribbed, brown; pappus up to 7 mm long, plumose trichomes, biseriate, barbellate. Ray florets 0

Flowering & Fruiting: January–April

Distribution: India (Tamil Nadu & Kerala), endemic.

Specimens examined: 145004 (MH, Image 2), 25.iii.2021, Agasthyarkoodam, slope of first rope base, Thiruvananthapuram District, Kerala, India, 8.61808333 N 77.24702778 E, ± 1,750 m, coll. P. Murugan

Biotic association: Acilepis pothigaiana was found growing along with other species such as Impatiens agastyamalayensis (Bhaskar) A.Joe, Bhaskar & M.Sabu, Impatiens henslowiana Arn., Symplocos wynadense (Kuntze) Noot., Senecio ludens C.B.Clarke, Hedyotis travancorica Bedd., Nostolachma crassifolia (Gamble) Deb & Lahiri, and Tarenna flava Alston

Note: Chelladurai & Gopalan (2001) described this species based on their collections (1977 & 1989) from the Pothigaimalai, Tirunelveli hills, Tamil Nadu. Later Kottaimuthu (2015) transferred Vernonia pothigaiana Chellad. & Gopalan into the genus Acilepis D.Don. The present collection turns to be the relocation of the plant after type and a new addition to the flora of Kerala.



Psychotria henryana Murugan & Gopalan

(Image 3)

Nordic J. Bot. 24: 415. 2007; Singh et al. End. Vasc. Pl. India: 237. 2015.

Type: India, Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari District: Muthukuzhi, ±1400 m, 19.i.1978, A.N. Henry 52454 (Holo: CAL image!; Iso: MH!).

Evergreen, large shrubs, up to 3 m high; branchlets terete, smooth, young parts stem green with white dotted. Leaves simple, opposite-decussate, oblanceolate, 8–20 × 4–8 cm, membranous, cuneate at base, margins at entire, acute to acuminate at apex; lateral nerves 8–15 pairs, reticulated; petioles up to 4 cm long, terete to towards apex flat, scare; stipules up to 3 cm long, oblong-lanceolate, flat with longitudinal channels, caudate and twisted towards apex when young and become obtuse at apex, folded longitudinally and caducous when mature.  Inflorescence terminal, loosely corymbose cymes, up to 6 cm long; branches opposite; peduncles 0.5–1 cm long, stout, terete; pedicels up to 4 mm long, terete; bracts caducous. Flowers 5–10 mm across, green, pentamerous, actinomorphic. Calyx tube obconical, 2–3 mm in diam.; lobes 5, obscurely toothed. Corolla valvate, 8–10 mm in diam., shortly tubed, densely white-villous at throat; lobes 5, oblong, 4–6 mm long, obtuse to acute at apex. Stamens 5, slightly exerted; filaments 0.5–1.5 mm long, filiform; anthers c. 2 mm long, oblong, dorsifixed, dithecous. Ovary inferior, subglobose, 2-locular; ovule 1 in each locule, placentation basal; style subulate, 4–6 mm long, towards to apex thickened; stigma bi-lobed, tongue shaped. Fruits ellipsoid-oblong, 1–1.5 cm long, dark brown or dark purple and yellow dotted.

Flowering and Fruiting: December–March

Specimens examined: 145011 (MH, Image 4), 25.iii.2021, Pongala Para, slope of way to Agasthyarkoodam peak, Thiruvananthapuram district, Kerala, India, 8.62119444 N 77.24852778 E, 1650–1750 m, coll. P. Murugan.

Distribution: India (Kerala and Tamil Nadu States), endemic.

Biotic association: Psychotria henryana was found growing along with other species such as Canthiumera neilgherrensis (Wight) K.M.Wong, Casearia thwaitesii Briq., Hedyotis travancorica Bedd., Nostolachma crassifolia (Gamble) Deb & Lahiri, Phlogacanthus grandis Bedd, Pittosporum neelgherrense Wight & Arn. and Symplocos wynadense (Kuntze) Noot.

Note: Psychotria henryana closely resembles Psychotria anamalayana Bedd., but can be distinguished from it by its stipules 2, flat with longitudinal channels, when young towards apex twisted and when mature obtuse (vs stipules 2–3, rarely bilobed, densely villous at base); leaves opposite-decussate, cuneate at base (vs leaves whorled, attenuate at base); inflorescence terminal, opposite, terete (vs inflorescence terminal or axillary, whorled, trigonous); flowers green (vs flowers white); calyx funnel, minutely teethed (vs calyx obconic, 5-toothed); disc discoid (vs subglobose); stigma shaped tongue (vs stigma ovate) and fruits when mature without calyx crowned with persistent (vs fruits when mature with calyx crowned with persistent).


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Murugan, C. & R. Gopalan (2007). Psychotria henryana (Rubiaceae), a new species from the Southern Western Ghats, India. Nordic Journal Botany 24: 415–418.

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