Indian Flora

Indian Flora

The Indian region is the meeting place of five floras- Palearctic, Ethiopian, Indo-Chinese, Malaysian and Autochthonus. This in part, can explain the great floristic diversity one finds in India's plant communities. In addition, it may help explain the paucity of endemic plant genera in the region; insufficient periods of isolation needed to permit endemics to evolve and prosper.

Plants from the Malaysian flora (Malaya to Indonesia and Melanesia) dominate the eastern and southern Indian region; the Ethiopian element is second in importance. Even components of the Australian flora occur in small numbers. For Peninsula India, endemism at the specific level is low, while at the generic level it is absent. No centres of regional endemism are discernible. Thus the dominant elements of India's flora evolved elsewhere, especially in the lands to the east and south-east. The Ethiopian element is possibly a remnant of past continental contact with East Africa. After the break-up of Gondwanaland, it can be presumed that Peninsular India carried with it old African forms, many of which were eventually replaced by competitors that invaded from the east after Asian contact. Thus when examining the region's plant life one can find clear representatives of other floras, including taxa from lands near and far, attesting to the remarkable dispersal ability of seed plants.

The Indian flora has Mediterranean elements from the families Zygophyllaceae, Geraniaceae, Leguminoseae, Cruciferae, and Capparidacae. Tropic-African elements occur in the form of numerous legumes and composites, Erythroxylon (Erythroxylaceae) Mudulea (Leguminosae),as well as the Madagascan genus Mammea(guttiferae). Malesian forms are typified by members of the Dipterocarpaceae, Anonaceae, Pittosporaceae, Guttiferae, Combretaceae and Dilleniaceae. Additionally, one finds elements from the central Asian steppes in the form of composites (Artemesia), crucifers, and members of the Chenopodiaceae. The genus Dyerophytum (Plumbaginaeceae) occurs in India, South Africa and Socotra. The Australian genus Melaleucaalso ranges to India. Even more remarkable is the genus Pyrularia which inhabits India, Java and North America.

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