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| Last Updated:: 21/01/2022

A Checklist of Plants of Maharashtra


A Checklist of Plants of Maharashtra



Maharashtra state was a part of Bombay Presidency during the British rule; subsequently it formed part of Bombay state. The present state of Maharashtra was formed on 1st May, 1960. It is about 800 km east-west and 700 km north-south, lying between 22°10' to 16°40' N latitude and 72°60' to 80°90' E longitude, having an area of 3,07,713 sq. km. The state is bounded by the Arabian Sea in the west, Gujarat in the North West, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the north and the east, Andhra Pradesh in the south east and Karnataka and Goa in the south. It is the third largest state of India. Its population is 7,89,37,187 according to 1991 census. The capital of the state is Mumbai. This state constitutes 34 districts.


Climate: The climate of Maharashtra is typically monsoonal, with ‘hot’ rainy and cold weather seasons. The months of March-May are maximum heat. During this season thunderstorms are common features all over the state. The first week of June is the time for the onset of the south-west monsoon. Rains spread out from the south western and western sides all over Maharashtra. July is the wettest month and August is substantially rainy and in September, the south west the rain is weaker. October marks the transition from the rainy season to winter. From November to February, there is a cool dry spell, with clear skies, gentle breezes and pleasant weather.


Soil: The soils of Maharashtra are residual, derived from the underlying basalts. In the semi-dry plateau, the Regur (black-cotton soil) is clayey, rich in iron, but poor in nitrogen and organic matter; it is moisture-retentive. Where redeposit along the river valleys, those kali soils are deeper and heavier, better suited for Rabi crop. Further away, with a better mixture of lime, the Morand soils form the ideal Kharif zone. The higher plateau areas have Pather soils, which contains more gravel. In the rainy Konkan and the Sahyadri range, the same basalts give rise to the brick-red laterites productive under a forest cover, but readily stripped into a sterile Varkas when the vegetation is removed.


Hills: The Sahyadri Range is the physical backbone of Maharashtra. Rising on an average to an elevation of 1000 m, it falls in steep cliffs, to the Konkan on the west. Eastwards, the hill country falls in steps through a transitional area known as Mawal to the plateau level. The Konkan lying between the Arabian Sea and the Sahyadri range is narrow coastal lowland. The Satpudas, hills along the northern border and the Bhamragad-Chiroli-Gaikhuri ranges on the eastern border form physical barriers preventing easy movements, but also serves as natural limits to the state. Except around Mumbai and along the eastern limits, this state presents a monotonously uniform, flat-topped skyline. The state area, barring the extreme eastern Vidarbha region, parts of Kolhapur and Sindhudurg, is practically co-terminus with the Deccan traps.


Rivers: The major rivers of the plateau are Tapi, the Godavari, the Bhima, the Krishna, the Wardha and Wainganga. The Godavari is the principal river of the state.


Vegetation/Forest: The forest area recorded for Maharashtra state is 63,842 sq. km which is ca 20.75% of its geographical area. The total forest cover is 46,143 sq. km which is 15% of area, out of which 23,622 sq. km is dense forest, 22,397 sq. km is open forest and 124 sq. km is mangrove forests. The vegetation of this state can be classified into: Konkan strip adjacent to Arabian Sea, Sahyadris or N.W. Ghats; Desh forming a flat plain to east, with side off-shoots of ranges of Sahyadris, Khandesh at the north with low hills of Satpura and Vidarbha. The vegetation of these zones differs due to factors like rainfall, temperature, humidity, type of soils and topography.


Plant Diversity: According to N.P. Singh et al. (2001), Flora of Maharashtra comprises 3134 species, 28 subspecies and 176 varieties of flowering plants belonging to 1097 genera under 201 families; besides 941 cultivated taxa. Of these, 2221 species in 841 genera and 167 families belongs to dicotyledons and 913 species in 256 genera and 34 families belongs to monocotyledons. Poaceae with 373 species are the largest family in the state followed by Fabaceae (364 spp.), Cyperaceae (174 spp.), Acanthaceae (131 spp.), Asteraceae (116 spp.), Orchidaceae (114 spp.), Euphorbiaceae (111 spp.), Rubiaceae (89 spp.), Lamiaceae (80 spp.) and Scrophulariaceae (66 spp). However, according to Almeida et al. (2003), there are about 5,040 species of flowering plants (wild as well as cultivated) in Maharashtra, belonging to 1,600 genera under 215 families.


Endemic and Rare Plants: 157 numbers of endemic taxa are found in Maharashtra. Some endemic plants are Delphinium malabaricum var. ghaticum, Xanthoxylum bombayanum, Abutilon ranadei, Rhamnus purandharensis, Alysicarpus narimanii, Indigofera deccanensis, Smithia agharkarii, Cassia kolabensis, Neanotis sahyadrica, Bidaria khandalensis, Ceropegia evansii, C. huberi, C. mahabalei, C. panchganiensis, C. sahyadrica, C. santapaui, Ipomoea salsettensis, Lindernia estaminodiosa, Dicliptera nasikensis, Lepidagathis bandraensis, Euphorbia khandalensis, Habenaria panchganiensis, Amorphophallus konkanensis, Fimbristylis ratnagirica, Ischaemum bombaiensis, etc. Nearly 251 species of plants are under varying degrees of threats in the state. Some extinct species are Crinum eleonorae forma purpurea, C. woodrowii, Drimia polyphylla, Ericaulon rouxianum, Habenaria caranjensis etc.


Forest Resources: In Maharashtra, the local population consumes a large number of wild plants as vegetables, medicines, dye yielding, paper & soap industry, famine food, fish poison, yielding fermented drinks, sacred plants, edible fruit, fodder, narcotic plants, wrapping bidis, gum extraction, making musical instruments, basket making, cordage etc., which are directly collected from the forest. In Maharashtra, there are many ethnic communities like Bhils, Gonds, Mahadev-Kolis, Halbas, Pawaris and Warlis that are dependent on forests for food, shelter and medicines.


Tribal Population: Tribal population of Maharashtra is low as compared to states like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, Bihar and NE India. The size of tribal population of the state is 9.19% of the total population according to 1991 census. Bhil, Mahadeokoli, Gond, Warli, Kokana, Thakur, Katkari, Gamit, Korku, Malhar Koli, Dhar Koli, Kolam, etc. are the major tribal communities in the state.


Protected Areas: The state has six National Parks, 48 Wildlife Sanctuaries and seven conservation reserve. The state has six National Parks (NP) i.e. Chandoli NP (317.67 sq. km), Gugamal NP (361.28 sq. km), Nawegaon NP (133.88 sq. km), Pench (Jawaharlal Nehru) NP (257.26 sq. km), Sanjay Gandhi (Borivilli) NP (86.96 sq. km) and Tadoba NP (116.55 sq. km).


Botanical History: Some of the important publications pertaining to the Flora of Maharashtra State are ‘Catalogue of Bombay Plants’ by Graham (1837), ‘Flora of Bombay’ by Dalzell & Gibson (1861), ‘The Flowering Plants of Western India’ by Nairne (1894), ‘The Flora of the Presidency of Bombay’ (T. Cooke, 1901-1908), ‘Forest Flora of the Bombay Presidency and Sind’ by Talbot (1909 & 1911), ‘Bombay Grasses’ by Blatter & MaCann (1935), ‘Flora of Maharashtra State: Monocotyledones (B.D. Sharma et al., 1996), Flora of Maharashtra State: Dicotyledones volume 1 (N.P. Singh & Karthikeyan, 2000), Flora of Maharashtra State: Dicotyledones volume 2 (N.P. Singh et al., 2001) and ‘Flora of Maharashtra’ in five volumes (M.R. Almeida, 1996-2009). Karthikeyan et al. (1981) brought out “An Annotated Bibliography of Taxonomic Botany of Peninsular India 1959-1978”. There are many district floras are also present, viz., ‘Flora of Osmanabad district’ by Naik (1980), ‘Flora of Nagpur district’ by Ugemuge (1986), ‘Flora of Akola district’ by Kamble & Pradhan (1988), ‘Flora of Sindhudurg district’ by Kulkarni (1988), ‘Flora of Nasik district by Lakshminarasimhan & Sharma (1991), ‘Flora of Raigad district by Kothari & Moorthy (1993), ‘Flora of Yavatmal district’ by Karthikeyan & Anand Kumar (1993), etc.



Threats to the Biodiversity:  The cause of threat to the nature and its resources are almost similar all over the world in the form of natural and man-made causes. Floods, soil erosion, landslides, earthquakes, natural competition between the species, biology of species mainly the pollination in the absence of suitable pollinator, natural regeneration, diseases and extension of the alien weedy elements etc. are some of the major natural causes responsible for the destruction of the natural vegetation. The major man-made causes are: population explosion, timber for building purposes, furniture, fuel wood, grazing and fodder, forest fires, exploitation of economically important plant species, development activities and agriculture.


List of Families, Genera and Species




  1. Singh, N.P. & Karthikeyan, S. (Eds.). 2000. Flora of Maharashtra State. Dicotyledons. (Ranunculaceae to Rhizophoraceae). Vol. 1. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.
  2. Singh, N.P., Lakshminarasimhan, P., Karthikeyan, S. & Prasanna, P.V. (Eds.). 2001. Flora of Maharashtra State. Dicotyledons. (Combretaceae to Ceratophyllaceae). Vol. 2. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.
  3. Sharma, B.D., Karthikeyan, S. & Singh, N.P (Eds.). 1996. Flora of Maharashtra State. Monocotyledons. Botanical Survey of India, Calcutta.