A Checklist of Plants of Andaman and Nicobar Islands
A CHECKLIST OF PLANTS OF
ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISLANDS
C. Murugan, S. Prabhu, R. Sathiyaseelan & R.P. Pandey
Paramjit Singh & W. Arisdason
ENVIS CENTRE ON FLORAL DIVERSITY
BOTANICAL SURVEY OF INDIA
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are the Union Territory and the largest archipelago system in the Bay of Bengal, comprising of 306 islands and 206 rocks and rock outcrops (islets) and situated between 6°45'–13°41' N and 92°12'–93°57' E, the total geographical area is 8,249 km2 with a coastline of 1,962 km. These are lying in North-South direction and simulating an arc stretching over a length of about 912 km and maximum width of 57 km. The northern group of islands, the Andaman group, is having a total area of 6,408 km2 comprising a total length of 467 km and width of 52 km (average width 24 km), while Nicobar groups are having area 1,841 km2 (length 259 km and maximum width 58 km). This archipelago is separated from mainland India by about 1000 km. The nearest landmass in the north is Myanmar, roughly 280 km north of Landfall Island – the northern most Island in the Andaman Group. The closest landmass to the Great Nicobar Island is Sumatra, about 145 km south. There are six aboriginal groups, viz., Andamanese, Onges, Jarawas and Sentineles, who are Negrito hunter-gatherers, inhabiting some of the Andaman Islands, while Nicobarese and Shompens, belonging to Mongoloid race, are living in Nicobar Islands.
Mythologically, the name Andaman is presumed to be derived from ‘Hanuman’, who was known to Malays as “Handuman”. These islands described as islands of the “Marigold Sun”, they were known throughout the country as “Kalapani” because of their having been a penal settlement under British Rule, a reputation fast-shedding since independence.
As these Islands are situated in the equatorial belt and are exposed to marine impacts having warm and humid tropical climate with the temperature ranging between 18° and 35°C. The islands receive heavy rainfall from both Southwest and Northeast monsoons, the former is from May to September and the latter is from October to December with the average annual rainfall ranging from 3000 to 3500 mm. Cyclonic winds accompanied by thunder and lighting are very frequent here. January to March having fairly dry weather with scanty rainfall. The mean relative humidity is rather high and usually remains between 66 and 85% throughout the year.
VEGETATION AND PLANT DIVERSITY OF ANDAMAN AND NICOBAR ISALNDS
Kurz (1870) published a “Report on the vegetation of the Andaman Islands”, in which he outlined the various vegetation types, and influence of various seasons upon the vegetation and peculiarities of flora of the Andaman Islands. According to Champion & Seth (1963), the vegetation of union territory may be broadly classified into (i) Beach forests, (ii) Mangrove forests, (iii) Wet evergreen forests, (iv) Semi-evergreen forests, (v) Moist deciduous forests and (vi) Grasslands. Parkinson (1923) published “A forest flora of the Andaman Islands” providing a taxonomic account of the trees, shrubs and principal climbers of the Islands. According to ‘India State of Forest Report 2015’ (FSI, 2015), the total forest cover of Andaman and Nicobar Islands is 6,751 km2, which occupies 81.84% of the total geographical area of the Islands.
The present enumeration is the result of after referring various literature (Vasudeva Rao, 1986; Lakshminarasimhan & Rao, 1996; Mathew, 1998; Dagar & Singh, 1999; Dixit & Sinha, 2001; Rao & al., 2003; Lal, 2005; Pandey & Diwakar, 2008; Lakshminarashimhan & al., 2011). The current nomenclature of all taxa was further determined by referring to authentic databases, such as The International Plant Names Index (IPNI), The Plant List, Tropicos and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP). The treatment of families are according to Bentham and Hooker’s system of classification (1862–1883), however, more recent concepts are followed in certain cases, especially regarding splitting/merging of the families, Hutchinson’s (1959) concept is followed. However, families, genera, species and infraspecific taxa are arranged alphabetically under each plant group.
The present study envisages an up-to-date enumeration of the plants of the area. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands harbours a total of 2649 plant taxa, comprising 2508 species, 32 subspecies, 103 varieties and 6 forma under 1109 genera in 238 families belonging to 4 different plant groups, namely bryophytes (mosses), pteridophytes, gymnosperms and angiosperms. Of which, angiosperms are the predominant group, comprising of 2314 species, 31 subspecies, 89 varieties and 6 forma under 1011 genera in 181 families, constituting 92% of entire flora of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Gymnosperms are represented by only 7 species and 2 varieties under 4 genera and 3 families. There are 129 species, 1 subspecies and 9 varieties of pteridophytes under 62 genera belonging to 38 families and 58 species and 3 varieties of mosses (bryophytes), under 32 genera and 16 families in the islands.
Only 3 angiospermous genera, namely Nicobariodendron, Pseudodiplospora and Sphyranthera and about 300 taxa are endemic to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, some of them are Anoectochilus narasimhanii, Ceropegia andamanica, Codiocarpus andamanicus, Cyrtandromoea nicobarica, Grewia indandamanica, Hippocratea andamanica, Leea grandifolia, Mangifera nicobarica, Memecylon andamanicum, Mesua manii, Miliusa andamanica, Ophiorrhiza infundibularis, Pterocarpus dalbergioides, Salacia nicobarica, Sonerila andamanensis, Sphaeropteris albo-setacea and Vernonia andamanica.
The flora of Andaman and Nicobar Islands also consists of considerable number of threatened taxa. Dendrobium tenuicaule, Eulophia nicobarica, Ginalloa andamanica, Malleola andamanica, Taeniophyllum andamanicum and Wendlandia andamanica are some of the endangered species found in the Islands. Cryptocarya ferrea var. ferrarsi, Garcinia cadelliana, G. kingii, Mesua manii, Neonauclea gageana, Prismatomeris fragrans subsp. andamanica, Psychotria pendula, Stephania andamanica and Syzygium andamanicum are known only by their type collection. Sphaeropteris albo-setacea and S. nicobarica are categorised under Appendix II List of CITES. The islands also harbour a number of economically important plant species.
Bentham, G. & Hooker, J.D. 1862–1883. Genera Plantarum. 3 Vols. A. Black, London.
Champion, H.G. & Seth, J.K. 1968. A Revised Survey of Forest Types of India. Manager of Publications, Delhi.
Dagar, J.C. & Singh, N.T. 1999. Plant resources of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Vol. I. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
Dixit, R.D. & Sinha, B.K. 2001. Pteridophytes of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
ENVIS-WII, 2012. Protected Area Gazette Notification Database (Andaman Nicobar Islands). Available at:
FSI, 2015. India State of Forest Report 2015. Forest Survey of India (FSI), Dehra Dun.
Hutchinson, J. 1959. The families of flowering plants. Vol. 1 & 2. ed. 2. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
Kurz, S. 1870. Report on the vegetation of the Andaman Islands. Office of the Superintend of Government
Lakshminarasimhan, P. & Rao, P.S.N. 1996. A supplementary list of Angiosperms recorded (1983–1993) from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 20: 175–185.
Lakshminarasimhan, P., Gantait, S., Rasingam, L. & Bandyopadhyay, S. 2011. Bibliography and Abstracts of Papers on Flora of Andaman & Nicobar Islands. ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah.
Lal, J. 2005. A check-list of Indian Mosses. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun.
Mathew, S.P. 1998. A supplementary report on the flora and vegetation of the Bay Islands, India. J. Econ. Taxon. Bot. 22: 249–272.
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Rao, C.K., Geetha, B.L. & Suresh, G. 2003. Red List of threatened vascular plant species in India. ENVIS Centre on Floral Diversity, Botanical Survey of India, Howrah.