Herbaceous vegetation of threatened high altitude lateritic plateau ecosystems of Western Ghats, southwestern Maharashtra, India

Lekhak M.M. & S.R. Yadav

Published on : 30-Jun-2012

DOI : https://dx.doi.org/10.22244/rheedea.2012.22.01.12


High altitude lateritic plateaus (locally known as sadas) are found throughout the northern Western Ghats. Despite their rich floral diversity, these plateaus are highly neglected due to their high seasonality. They are isolated landscapes that are subjected to edapho-climatic harshness and anthropogenic pressures. A floristic survey of ten such lateritic plateaus in southwestern Maharashtra, revealed the presence of 356 species and 5 varieties of herbaceous plants distributed in 61 angiospermous families under 27 orders. Of the 67 endemic species reported from these habitats, 39 (58%) are restricted to plateaus only. Poaceae show high level of endemism (22 species). These plateau vegetations have varied microhabitats that support distinct plant communities depending primarily on soil and moisture availability. These unprotected unique ecosystems, rich in floral diversity and endemism are in need of immediate conservation priority.