Significance of ex situ conservation of Exacum bicolor in Kerala

U. Sreelatha, C. Narayanankutty
Having great potential as ornamental plant, Exacum bicolor Roxb., an indigenous gentian struggle for its existence in Kerala due to severe habitat destruction. Major habitats of the plant are dry grass lands in plains and shola grasslands in high ranges. The habitats were severely destructed for various purposes like laterite mining, quarrying, and setting up plantations of rubber, cashew and coconut. Grasslands in the plains were also converted as sites for industry and educational institutions. Among the 125 sampling units studied in Kerala, occurrence of the plant could be noted only in 41 units with a frequency of 32.80% for the whole State. Among the 41 units, 28 (68.29%) are in private possession, 11 are forest lands and 2 as revenue properties. High risk of habitat loss exists for areas that are in private possession. Resurvey conducted in 12 sampling units spread over Thrissur, Malappuram and Palakkad districts revealed total disturbance of the habitat in three units that resulted in disappearance of the plant in these units. Thus 25% habitat loss occurred within a short period of one year. Resurvey conducted in 2015 showed 50% loss of habitats in these three districts. This is a clear indication of the endangering status of the plant in Kerala. Apart from the medicinal properties cited in old literature, Exacum bicolor is also a plant of future importance as an ornamental in the humid, high rainfall regions of the country.
Sreelatha, U. and Narayanankutty, C. 2017. Significance of ex situ conservation of Exacum bicolor in Kerala. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 1165:33-38
endangered gentian, domestication, habitat devastation, endemic gentian, herbaceous ornamental, grassland flora, country kreat