Two of the new taxa reported from Madayipara in Kannur. (Photo: Pramod C)
KOZHIKODE: Kannur's Madayipara, known for the enchanting bluish ‘Kakkapoo’ (Utricularia), now has 670 flowering plants on its list. Botanists and researchers from 2008 to 2015 had added nine new taxa; Coelachene madayensis (Kunjipullu), Eriocaulon madayiparense (Choothu), Justicia ekakusuma (Ekasumam), Lepidagathis keralensis (Paaramullu), Lindernia madayiparensis, Nymphoides krishnakesara (Krishnaneythal), Parasopubia hofmannii var. albiflora (Vella Kunjikolambi), Parasopubia hofmannii var. hofmannii (Kunjikolambi) and Rotala malabarica (Malabar rotaala).
Two latest entries are Fimbristylis pokkudaniana (discovered in 2016) and Chrysopogon narayaniae (2017) in the survey of Dr Ratheesh Narayanan M.K, and C.N. Sunil. "The importance of Madayipara is that the area has only 3.65 square kilometres but hosts 670 flowering plants. Kannur district as a whole has only 1300 flowering plants," says Pramod. C., botany assistant professor at Government Brennen College, Thalassery, who was part of the team. The impressive numbers indicate the uniqueness of the habitat in holding a rich diversity of plants, with a high degree of endemism.
"Among them are many rare medicinal species such as Curculigo orchioides (Nilappana) and very rare Nymphoides krishnakesara (Neythal) whose habitat is under threat now," he said. Madayipara’s plant diversity got attention after the publication of the preliminary checklist of plants compiled by the Payyannur-based green organisation, Society for Environmental Education in Kerala (SEEK), in the 1990s during the preparation of parallel Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report to save the region from large-scale mining proposed at that time. A temple, private property and government share its land.