Reproductive biology of Ophiorrhiza caudata C.E.C.Fisch. (Rubiaceae), an endemic and endangered creeping perennial herb of the Western Ghats, India

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Maria Theresa
Appukuttan Kamalabai Sreekala
Jayalakshmi Mohanlal


Ophiorrhiza caudata is a creeping, perennial herb distributed along wet and shady areas. The species is distylous with two distinct floral morphs: pin and thrum. Flowering usually occurs during the monsoon season. No particular difference was noticed in the flowering phenology of the two morphs. Presently the species is self-incompatible, however, it shows a tendency towards intramorph compatibility. Fruit set is above 60% in open pollination and intermorph pollination. Bees and butterflies are the major pollinators. The pollen flow between the two floral morphs varies depending upon floral morphology and pollinators. Fruit is a bi-valved capsule which dehisces by a splashing drop mechanism. The seeds are very minute. The rate of seed germination and seedling establishment in the wild condition is very poor due to adverse climatic factors. Ophiorrhiza caudata is struggling for survival in its natural habitat, where habitat fragmentation, climatic factors and poor seedling establishment could account for its narrow distribution.

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