ENVIS Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Sunday, June 23, 2024

A checklist of plant of Bihar including Jharkhand






The former undivided state of Bihar (21°55'10"–27°31'15" N and 83°19'50"–88°17'40"E) was bounded in the north by the international boundary of Nepal, in the south by the state of Orissa (now Odisha), in the east by the state of West Bengal and in the west by the states of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, and covered a total geographical area of 1,73,877 km2. In the year 2000, the erstwhile state of Bihar was bifurcated into two independent states namely Bihar and Jharkhand. The two distinct geographical regions, the Chota Nagpur and the Santal Parganas were demarcated as the state of Jharkhand.





Bihar is an entirely land-locked state, located in the eastern part of the country, and lying between 24°20'10"–27°31'15" N and 83°19'50"–88°17'40" E. It is bounded by Nepal in the north and by Jharkhand in the south. The state covers a total geographical area of 94,163 km2. The plains of the state divided into two unequal halves by the river Ganga, which flows through the middle from west to east. However, the state is administratively divided into 38 different districts. Patna is the capital city of the state, situated on the bank of the river Ganga.


Topography and Soil: The topography of the state is predominantly of a fertile alluvial plain, occupying the Gangetic Valley; the plains extend from the Himalayan foothills in the north to a few miles south of the river Ganges as it flows through the state from the west to the east. There are three major types of soils found in the state, they are: (i) Piedmont swamp soil (in north-western part of West Champaran district), (ii) Terai soil (northern part of the state along the border of Nepal) and (iii) the Gangetic alluvium (the plains are covered by new as well as old Gangetic alluvium).


Climate: Being situated in the tropical and subtropical region, the state exhibits a continental monsoon type of climate. The state receives rainfall from Southwest monsoon during June to September, and the retreating southwest monsoon during October–November, and the state receives an average annual rainfall of about 1200 mm; the climate is cold during December– February and hot from March to May.


Water Resources: Water resource of Bihar is rich with both the ground water and the surface water resources. River Ganga and its tributaries namely Saryu (Ghaghra), Gandak, Budhi Gandak, Bagmati, Kamla-Balan and Mahananda are the major water resources of the state. Besides, there are some other rivers, Sone, Uttari Koyal, Punpun, Panchane and Karmnasha, which meet in Ganges or its associate rivers.


Indigenous Tribal Communities: There are about 30 different tribal communities in the state of Bihar; Santal, Oraon, Kharwar, Gond, Munda, Lohara, Kisan and Kora are the major tribal communities with large population (with above 10,000 to more than one lakh) in the state (Bhatt & Bhargava, 2006a). The tribal population constitutes only 0.91% of the total population of the state.


Vegetation/Forest: The state has a total of 7,288 km2 are under forest cover (FSI, 2015), which constitute 7.73% of total geographical region of the state. There are different recognised vegetation/forest types in the state (as per the revised classification of forests in India by Champion & Seth (1968), they are: (i) Cane brakes, (ii) Bhabar Dun Sal Forest, (iii) West Gangetic Moist Mixed Deciduous Forest, (iv) Eastern Wet Alluvial Grassland, (v) Dry Siwalik Sal Forest, (vi) Dry Peninsular Sal Forest, (vii) Northern Dry Mixed Deciduous Forest, (viii) Dry Deciduous Scrub, (ix) Boswellia Forest, and (x) Dry Bamboo Brakes (FSI, 2015).


Protected Areas: The state has 12 Wildlife Sanctuaries and one National Park, constitute 3.44% of its total geographical area. It also has one Tiger Reserve (Valmiki) that covers 899.38 km2 area.





Jharkhand, a forest and mineral rich state in India, formed as a separate state after bifurcation of the erstwhile state of Bihar in the year 2000, and comprises two distinct regions namely the Chota Nagpur and the Santal Parganas. It lies between 22°00'–24°37' N and 83°15'– 87°01' E. The state has a total geographical area of 79,714 km2.


Topography and Soil: The state possesses undulating tracts, hills and ridges ranging from 300 to 900 m, and major part of the state lies on the Chota Nagpur plateau. There are many valleys and basins of rivers. Five different types of soils can be recognised in the state, they are: (i) Red soil (mostly in the Damodar valley and Rajmahal areas), (ii) Micacious soil, containing particles of mica (found in Koderma, Jhumri Telaiya, Barkagaon and areas adjacent to Mandar hill), (iii) Sandy soil (Hazaribagh and Dhanbad), (iv) Black soil (Rajmahal area) and (v) Laterite soil (western part of Ranchi, Palamau and parts of Santal Parganas and Singhbhum). Jharkhand is a part of the Indian peninsular shield, which is stable cratonic block of the earth’s crust. The state is known for its diversified geological set up. Geologically, Jharkhand consists of different types of rock formations ranging from Precambrian to Cenozoic era. The most predominant hard rocks in the state comprise of the Archaean metamorphic with associated intrusive and sedimentary belonging to Vindhyan and Gondwana Super Group with associated igneous rocks. The Raj Mahal hills, lying in the north-eastern extremity of the Chotanagpur Plateau consists of Jurassic volcanic lava flows.


Climate: The state exhibits three well-defined seasons: summer (March–mid-June), rainy monsoon (mid-June–October) and winter (November–February). During summer, May used to be the hottest month with temperature ranging from 25°C to 40°C (mean temperature 32°C), except in the extreme north and plateaus of Ranchi and Hazaribagh districts. January used to be the coldest month with temperature ranging from 6°C to 22°C (mean temperature 14°C). The average annual rainfall varies between 100 cm in the west-central to more than 150 cm in the extreme north and in the south-west.



Water Resources: The Chota Nagpur plateau is the source of the major rivers of the state namely Koel, Damodar, Brahmani, Kharkai and Subarnarekha.


Indigenous Tribal Communities: The state is an abode of many indigenous tribal communities. In fact, it is one among the Indian states with large population of tribal communities. The population of tribal communities in the state constitutes 26.30% of state’s total population (Bhatt & Bhargava, 2006b). There are 30 different tribal communities in the state; Santal, Oraon, Munda, Ho, Kharwar, Bhumij, Kharia, Lohra, Mahli and Mal Pahariya are the larger tribal communities with more than one lakh population each, besides there are many other indigenous tribal communities in the state namely Bedia, Karmali, Gond, Chick Baraik, Kisan, Korwa, Parhaiya, Sauria Paharia, Asur and Birhor. Majority of these tribal communities especially those inhabiting in the woodlands are utilizing the available wide range of wild plant resources for various purposes.


Vegetation/Forest: According to State of Forest Report, the total forest cover of the state is 23,478 km2 (FSI, 2015), which constitute 29.45% total geographical area of the state. There are five different forest types (as per the revised classification of forests in India by Champion & Seth (1968) in the state, they are: (i) Moist Peninsular low level Sal forest, (ii) Dry Peninsular Sal forest, (iii) Northern Dry Mixed Deciduous forest, (iv) Dry Deciduous Scrub, and (v) Dry Bamboo Brake (FSI, 2015).


Protected Areas: There are 11 Wildlife Sanctuaries and one National Park in the state that cover an area of about 2,182.15 km2 and constitute 2.74% of the total geographical area of the state. Palamau is the only Tiger Reserve, located in the state covering an area of 1,026 km2 (FSI, 2011), and Singhbhum is the only Elephant Reserve in the state that covers an area of 4530 km2.



Botanical History (Bihar and Jharkhand): The rich vegetation and floristic diversity of the region have attracted the attention of number of explorers in the past. Hooker (1848) was the first botanist who made sporadic collections in the Parasnath hills to study the flora of Bihar. Anderson (1863) published an account on the flora of Bihar based on the collections of Hooker, Edgeworth and Thomson and also of his own. Subsequently, Ball (1866, 1867, 1869) made a study on the flora of Manbhum and Hazaribagh with particular reference to the food plants of the natives. Campbell (1886) had collected plants over 30 years in Chotanagpur region for his noteworthy work “The Descriptive Catalogue of Economic Products of Chutianagpur”. Wood (1906) and Haines (1910) also did extensive work in Chotanagpur plateau and published a comprehensive account entitled, “A Forest Flora of Chotanagpur” in which a total of 275 species were recorded from Singhbhum. However, his most notable work was “Botany of Bihar and Orissa” which appeared in six parts during 1921–1925 in which 813 species from Singhbhum were reported. Later, a number of other botanists namely Bodding (1927), Biswas (1934, 1935), Mooney (1937, 1938, 1941, 1944, 1947, 1950), Mukherjee (1947, 1956), Bressers (1951), Ara (1954, 1960, 1966), Srivastava (1954, 1955a, b, 1956a, b, 1958a–c, 1959, 1961), Sanyal (1957), Bhardwaja (1958), Jha (1965), Thothathri (1965), Thothathri & al. (1966), Kanodia & Malick (1966), Panigrahi (1966), Srivastava & al. (1966), Banerjee & Banerjee (1969), Mishra (1985), Meher-Homji (1971), Majumdar & Biswas (1971), Paul (1966, 1967, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1984, 1990), Jain & al. (1975), Paul & Prasad (1978), Raizada (1978), Biswas & Maheswari (1980), Paria & Chattopadhyay (2000, 2005), Singh & al. (2001), Sharma & Sarkar (2002) and others have extensively surveyed various areas and have made significant contributions on the flora and vegetation of Bihar and Jharkhand states.


Recently, some of the scientific officials of Botanical Survey of India explored some of the Protected Areas in the state of Jharkhand and comprehensively documented the plant diversity in the respective Protected Area: Magesh (2013) explored the flora and different habitats of Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary reported 417 taxa (including 412 species, 2 subspecies and 3 varieties) in 317 genera belonging to 94 angiospermous families, besides, 8 species of pteridophytes from the wildlife sanctuary; Mastakar (2018) reported a total 480 taxa of angiosperms belonging to 332 genera under 98 families, besides, 12 species of pteridophytes belonging to 8 genera under 4 families from Palkot Wildlife Sanctuary situated in the districts of Gumla and Simdega districts and Biswa (2018) explored the angiospermic flora of Koderma Wildlife Sanctuary, and recorded 437 taxa (432 species and 5 varieties) in 332 genera belonging to 100 families, and also reported 8 species of pteridophytes.


Plant Diversity: As there is no separate flora of Jharkhand and Bihar, no authenticate account on the species diversity of these two states is available separately. The details on the plant diversity of this region (the undivided Bihar state) are provided here on the basis of earlier publication. Singh & al. (2001) in their analysis on the Flora of Bihar (undivided state) enumerated a total of 2963 species under 1151 genera belonging to 186 families, of which 857 species in 276 genera and 38 families belong to monocotyledons and 2106 species in 875 genera and 148 families belong to dicotyledons. The analysis also revealed that the grass family Poaceae with 342 species is the largest among the angiospermic families, followed by Fabaceae (221 spp.), Asteraceae (152 spp.), Cyperaceae (140 spp.), Euphorbiaceae (105 spp.), Orchidaceae (100 spp.), Acanthaceae (94 spp.), Rubiaceae (87 spp.), Lamiaceae (71 spp.) and Scrophulariaceae (69 spp.), and among the genera, the genus Cyperus with 35 species is the largest genus, followed by Ficus (31 spp.), Crotalaria (30 spp.), Fimbristylis (27 spp.), Euphorbia (25 spp.), Cassia (23 spp.), Ipomoea and Eragrostis (21 spp. each), Indigofera (18 spp.) and Leucas (17 spp.).


Endemic and Rare Plants: According to Singh & al. (2001) there are only 15 taxa known to be endemic to the region, they are: Clematis roylei var. patens, Carum villosum, Sophora bakeri, Tetrastigma alcicorne, Swertia angustifolia var. pyramidalis, Zingiber purpureum var. palamaunsis, Ligusticum alboalatum, Leucas helicterifolia, Agrostis brachiata, Leucas lanata var. nagpurensis, Chrysopogon hamiltonii, Dendrocalamus strictus var. sericeus, Dimeria ornithopoda var. gracillima, Iseilema holei and Lophopogon kingii.


Besides, there are some other taxa which are endemic to Bihar and also its adjoining states, they are: Acacia pseudoeburnea, Albizia thompsonii var. galbana, Alysicarpus roxburghianus, Apocopis vaginata, Chrysopogon lancearius, Crotalaria pusilla, C. quinquefolia, C. globosa, C. topouensis, Cymbopogon gidarba, Desmodium benthamii, Dimeria connivens, Eragrostiella brachyphylla, E. nardoides, Erythrina resupinata, Euclasta clarkei, Hardwickia binata, Ischaemum duthiei, I. hirtum, Mnesithea clarkei, Pseudoraphis minuta, Pterocarpus marsupium var. acuminata, Themeda strigosa and Tripogon capillatus. About 250 species are rare in distribution.


Plants of Economic Importance: The forests in these states are the repositories of a variety of raw materials which include major and minor forest produces. Timber is the principal major forest resource, and there are many arboreal species that yield good timber (both hard and soft wood). Some of them are: Dalbergia latifolia, D. sissoo, D. lanceolaria, Gmelina arborea, Lagerstroemia pavriflora, Pterocarpus marsupium, Shorea robusta, Terminalia alata, T. arjuna, T. chebula, Bombax ceiba, Erythrina variegata and Haldina cordifolia. This region also has good population of variety of bamboo species, which are the source of valuable raw material for paper pulp and rayon production.

These two states possess wide range of minor forest produces, which play an important role in the livelihood support of tribal and forest dwellers in terms of subsistence and income generation. The indigenous people belonging to various communities are engaged in the collection of leaves, barks, gums, roots, flowers, fruits and entire plants from the forest areas for their livelihood. Approximately 50% of population is dependent on forests and their biological resources.

The seeds of Shorea robusta are made into cakes and used as a good cattle feed. Leaves of Diospyros melanoxylon (locally well-known as ‘Kendu’), and of other species namely Bauhinia racemosa, Butea monosperma, Diospyros malabarica and Shorea robusta are used in wrapping beedis. Butea monosperma, Bauhinia variegata, Mallotus philippensis, Mangifera indica, Morinda pubescence and Woodfordia fruticosa are some of the dye yielding plants found in the region. The flowers of Butea monosperma, which yield a non-toxic natural colour, are used by the villagers during Holi festival.

Madhuca longifolia is widely used by the locals for making fermented drink called ‘Mauha’. Asparagus racemosus, Croton persimilis, Phoenix sylvestris and Pogostemon benghalensis are the other species used in local drinks. Apart, there are a variety of medicinal plants in the forest areas used by various indigenous tribal communities for different ailments. Achyranthes aspera, Amaranthus spinosus, Aristolochia indica, Curculigo orchioides, Gmelina arborea and Plectranthus mollis are used by the locals as antidote for snake bite and scorpion sting, and to treat bone fractures Gardenia gummifera and Tinospora cordifolia are used. For treating cough, cold, asthma and bronchitis Abrus precatorius, Achyranthes aspera, Adhatoda zeylanica and Chrozophora prostrata, and for curing jaundice Aegle marmelos, Cochlospermum religiosum and Gardenia turgida are used by the locals. Likewise, many plant species are used by the locals and tribal communities for treating various ailments.


Conservation: Biodiversity of this region faces various threats. Illegal mica mining, illicit felling of trees, artificial forest fires and invasion of alien species, illegal poaching and conversion/encroachment of forest areas for cultivation are some of the major threats. Illegal mica mining in some of the Protected Areas of Jharkhand state leads to fragmentation of habitats, and the resultant fallow land is immediately colonised by the invasive species such as Lantana camara, Argemone mexicana, A. ochroleuca. Buchanania cochinchinensis and Shorea robusta are illegally felled in large number by the locals for fuel, firewood and timber and also for thatching and fencing purposes.

Cattle-grazing has been another serious problem posing an immense pressure on the ground vegetation of forest ecosystems. Acmella paniculata, Chromolaena odorata, Hyptis suveolens, Lantana camara and Parthenium hysterophorus are some of the alien invasive species found naturalized and competing with the native species in the forests. Similarly, the freshwater lakes and ponds in the region are completely invaded by Eichhornia crassipes and Spirodela polyrhiza. These weeds need to be controlled and their spread has to be monitored regularly. Illegal hunting of wild animals by tribal communities, and human interference mostly due to tourism also pose serious threat to the biodiversity of Protected Areas in both states.

A periodic monitoring by the personnel of the State Forest Department of both Bihar and Jharkhand and implementation of proper and effective conservation measures and strategies are necessary to protect and conserve the existing biodiversity of the region. Furthermore, awareness should be created by the government and non-governmental organisations through educating the local communities about the importance of conserving the flora, and fauna and sustainable utilization of NTFPs (Non Timber Forest Produces), for the posterity and also to involve them in conservation activities.


List of plant of Bihar including Jharkhand