Depletion of biodiversity and its management is a buzzword now a days and this topic is discussed at different fora. It is however an ironical fact that the ones having interest in taxonomy of angiosperms are also becoming extinct very fast and attempting flora writing as a rare endeavour. In such situation the Niyogi Books’ “Flora of the Southern Western Ghats and Palnis” authored by Pippa Mukherjee is like a cool breeze in desert.
Mukherjee has selected an area for vegetation study and its description which is important not only in India but at the global level. The reason is its being a designated hotspot. Western Ghat is a heaven for botanists and is full of botanical marvels.
The pictorial document presented by the author is a result of extensive fieldwork and keen scientific observation. About 200 plants of the research area have been described, most of them being easily available in Southern Western Ghat.
Apart from native species, the author has also introduced and described species which provide a broader scenario of changing vegetation pattern of Western Ghats. Wherever necessary, the author has mentioned endemism (this is a condition where species is confined to a restricted area and is not found elsewhere) of species as well which is a significant fact for botanist and naturalists. Binomial name of plants with variety and authorship is useful for researches for seeking further reference.
Apart from this, common vernacular name of plants and name of plants in other languages is also given making the flora a convenient reading. Lack of common name of plants in Hindi or other common North Indian language is however a negligible shortcoming of this book.
The taxonomic key presented for identification of plants is simple but scientific and a ready reference during field visit. It is appreciable that unnecessary technicality is avoided in preparing taxonomic keys. Apart from flowers, leaves are also an important tool for identification of plants. A near real line diagram of leaves is an added benefit for identification for field studies. Description of every plant is supplemented with good quality photographs. The book also provides common English name of plants described. An exhaustive index presented at the end of the book is also added value. Bibliography is short however.
On the whole Flora of Southern Western Ghat is a soothing text in present time when writing a flora is uncommon. This book will prove to be of great value for students, researchers and teachers of botany. This flora will surely be acclaimed by nature lovers also.
Reviewed by Dr. Prashant Kumar Mishra
Dr. Mishra teaches at the University Department of Botany, Vinoba Bhave University, Hazaribag, Jharkhand