Book ID: 109724
Strobilanthes in the Western Ghats, India. The Magnificent Role of Nature in Speciation. illus. (col.). 152 p. 4to. Hardcover.
Strobilanthes (Family: Acanthaceae having other 336 genera and more than 5500 species) with 400 species (Wood and Scotland, 2009) is distributed along the South and Southeast Asia. Various species are introduced to Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Mauritius, New Caledonia, Reunion, Trinidad-Tobago, Venezuelan Antilles and Windward Islands.
It was Blume (1826) who established the genus Strobilanthes based on the collections from Java. Bremekamp (1944, 1965, 1960) revised the tribe Strobilanthinae and described 54 genera mainly based on the characters of pollen morphology and characters of the testa. Very few scientists agreed with him, but this is followed in some of the recent Indian flora. There is no sharp discontinuity among most of the species in the pollen morphological features (Carine & Scotland, 1998, 2000) and hence segregation of new genera became unsustainable. The broad concept of Strobilanthes as circumscribed by T. Anderson is followed in the present work.
The Indian subcontinent has 40% of the entire spectrum of diversity i.e., 160-170 species. After the description of the genus Strobilanthes (Blume, 1826) it was followed by many taxonomists (Nees, 1832, Beddome, 1868-1874; Wight, 1838-1853; Bentham, 1851, 1861 & 1876; T. Anderson, 1867; C.B. Clarke, 1884 & 1907; Lindau, 1893,1894; Gamble, 1915-1936; Wood, 1994; Bennet & Scotlend 2003; Carine et at, 2004; Moylan, 2004; Scotland, 1992 &1998; Scotland & Vollesen, 2000; Scotland, etal., 1995) by describing large number of species mainly from India. Strobilanthes might have reached Western Ghats during its uplift some 65 million years ago (Tertiary Period), along with the mass flow of various genetic stock, mainly the humid tropical elements of Malaysian origin, through the Assam Gateway. Strobilanthes with a substantial representation of about 64 species in peninsular Indian hills indicates the capacity of the Western Ghats for large-scale speciation of any genetic stock.
The most distinctive characteristic of Strobilanthes is its monocarpic nature, flowering only once after a long period of vegetative growth ranging from 1-16 years and drying after this flowering. This infrequent flowering and monocarpic nature make many species of this genus not documented in floristic studies. The plant dies after the flowering and dispersal of seeds. Most of the Strobilanthes are neoendemics. The mass flowering within restricted geographical zones remain a mystery yet to be solved. It is hypothesized that the maximum utilisation of all nutrients stored in plants for the maximum benefits of the flowering (reproductive big-bang) after a long period of vegetative growth creates a nutrient starvation in the vegetative parts of the plants. This makes extreme lack of nutrients in plants except reproductive parts that lead to the death of the plants after the maturation of the seeds.
A large portion of this genus show high degree of habitat specificity which may be the reason for the rarity of many species as Western Ghats is also a victim of habitat loss. Of the 64 taxa of Strobilanthes in the Western Ghats, 55 taxa with field photographs and two species with herbarium photographs are included in this book. The remaining seven taxa namely, S. bolampattianus, S. humilis, S. membranaceus, S. minor, S. newii, S. sexennis, could not be included as repeated field works to locate them in the field (in the type locality and similar areas) have yielded no result. S. anceps and S. sexennis are considered as restricted to Sri Lanka.
The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) has recognized 193 species as accepted names of this genus. The rest are under the review for acceptance