Observations on the flowering plant diversity of Madayippara, a southern Indian lateritic plateau from Kerala, India

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C. Pramod
A.K. Pradeep


Northern Kerala of southern India is characterized by widely spread lateritic plateaus which provide an extremely harsh physical environment for life leading to the development of specialized plant communities with a large number of endemic and habitat specific species.  Madayippara, a midland lateritic plateau located in the Kannur District of northern Kerala is an icon of rich floristic diversity and endemism.  The plateau forms a number of microhabitats due to the difference in geographic terrain and soil cover, thus forming a complex of habitats with diverse forms of plants, mainly ephemeral herbs.  Out of the 636 flowering plant taxa recorded from the microhabitats of the plateau, within a limited area of 3.65km2, 160 (c. 25%) are endemics.  Most of the endemic species occur in specialized microhabitats. The plateau is the type locality of 11 taxa.  Lateritic plateaus of southern India, which are associated with characteristic and rich biodiversity, are now under varied types of anthropogenic threats such as large scale mining for bricks and clay, and they need urgent attention for conservation of the biodiversity.

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