Journal of Threatened Taxa | | 26 February 2020 | 12(3): 15400–15404


ISSN 0974-7907 (Online) | ISSN 0974-7893 (Print) 


#5673 | Received 01 January 2020 | Final received 07 February 2020 | Finally accepted 11 February 2020



Record of Oldenlandia hygrophila Bremek. (Spermacoceae: Rubiaceae), a lesser known herb from Palghat Gap of Western Ghats, Kerala, India


Vadakkeveedu Jagadesh Aswani 1, Vasudevan Ambat Rekha 2, Pathiyil Arabhi 3, Manjakulam Khadhersha Jabeena 4, Kunnamkumarath Jisha 5 & Maya Chandrashekaran Nair 6


1,2,4,5,6 Post Graduate and Research Department of Botany, Govt. Victoria College (University of Calicut), Palakkad, Kerala 678001, India.

2 Department of Botany, Mercy College (University of Calicut), Palakkad, Kerala 678006, India.

3 Department of Botany, Baselius College (Mahatma Gandhi University), Kottayam, Kerala 686001, India.  

1 (corresponding author), 2, 3, 4,

5, 6



Editor: K.P. Rajesh, Zamorin’s Guruvayurappan College, Calicut, India.    Date of publication: 26 February 2020 (online & print)


Citation: Aswani, V.J., V.A. Rekha, P. Arabhi, M.K. Jabeena, K. Jisha & M.C. Nair (2020). Record of Oldenlandia hygrophila Bremek. (Spermacoceae: Rubiaceae), a lesser known herb from Palghat Gap of Western Ghats, Kerala, India.  Journal of Threatened Taxa 12(3): 15400–15404.


Copyright: © Aswani et al. 2020. Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  JoTT allows unrestricted use, reproduction, and distribution of this article in any medium by providing adequate credit to the author(s) and the source of publication.


Funding: Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), Govt. of Kerala,

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).


Competing interests: The authors declare no competing interests.


Acknowledgements: First author and Jisha K. sincerely acknowledge financial support provided under the research fellowship programme and back-to-lab scheme by Kerala State Council for Science Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), Govt. of Kerala.  Jabeena, M.K. acknowledges The Council of Scientific and Research Institute (CSIR) for the financial assistance. Authors like to extend sincere thanks to Director of Collegiate Education, Govt. of Kerala, and Principal, Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad for infrastructural support and encouragement. Authors are grateful to Prof. R. Vasudevan Nair, Rtd. Professor of Botany, Govt. Victoria College, Palakkad and Dr. K. M. Prabhukumar, CMPR, Kottakkal for their valuable comments in confirming the identity of the taxa. Rekha Vasudevan A., acknowledges University Grants Commission for granting FDP and authorities of Mercy College, Palakkad for necessary permissions in pursuing research. The authors sincerely acknowledge the support from Department of Forests, Govt. of Kerala for necessary permissions and assistance in exploring the forests of Palakkad District.



The genus Oldenlandia L. (1753) belonging to the tribe Spermacoceae Chamisso & Schlechtendal ex de Candolle (1830) of the family Rubiaceae is well distributed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world (Govaerts et al. 2013).  In India, the occurrence of the genus Oldenlandia is often debated with variable number of citations as 27 species (Hooker 1880) in the Flora of British India and 45 species (Gamble & Fischer 1923) in the Madras Presidency region alone.  Estimates reveal the documentation of 14 species and one variety from the state of Kerala (Sasidharan 2011; Jose et al. 2015; Soumya et al. 2017).


Materials and Methods

During the exploratory studies on the floristic diversity of granitic hillocks in Walayar forest range of southern Western Ghats, the authors came across this taxon growing on the rocky outcrops near the dam site of Malampuzha in Palakkad District in July 2017.  The specimens of the taxon were procured and herbarium was prepared using standard herbarium procedures.  The plant specimens were characterised, measured and illustrated.

The specimen was identified to be Oldenlandia hygrophila Bremek. collected by Prof. Vasudevan Nair in 1972 cited from Malampuzha dam vicinity of Palakkad District (Bremekamp 1974) and confirmed the taxa from the type specimens deposited at Kew Herbarium (O. hygrophila: bar code no: K000031277).  Regional herbaria (MH, KFRI and CALI) were consulted to check the presence of earlier collections of the taxon and found that N. Sasidharan had collected the taxa from Thrissur District in 1987 (Acc. No. KFRI 6945, collection No: N.S. 4635).  Later, the taxa was reported from Muthanga region of Wayanad District in Kerala by Ratheesh Narayanan (RNMK 2228) in 2009.  The taxon was not able to relocate from its type locality after its first collection by Prof. R. Vasudevan Nair in 1972.  The acronyms for the herbaria follow the Index Herbariorum (Thiers 2018).  The protologues of the allied taxa Oldenlandia pumila (L.f.) DC. and Oldenlandia dineshii Sojan & V. Suresh  were also compared.


Oldenlandia hygrophila Bremek., Kew Bull. 29: 359. 1974; Narayanan, Fl. Stud. Wayanad Dist. 435. 2009. Hedyotis hygrophila (Bremek.) Bennet, Journ. Econ. Tax. Bot. 4: 592. 1983; Sasidharan et al., Bot. Stud. Med. Pl. Kerala 18. 1996; Sasidh. & Sivar., Fl. Pl. Thrissur For. 221. 1996; Dutta & Deb, Taxonomic Revision Hedyotis 140. 2004 (Figure 1 and Images 1,2).

Annual, erect, branched or unbranched  herbs, 25–130 mm tall.  Entire plant with sparsely distributed setiform cuticular protuberances.  Stem quadrangular, minutely winged when old.  Stipules connate, interpetiolar, 1.5–2 mm long, 1–1.2 mm wide, with three bristles, middle one longer than the other two.  Leaves sessile, 5–12 mm × 2–5 mm, linear lanceolate, 1–nerved, lamina base attenuate, margins recurved.  Flowers axillary solitary, 3–3.5 mm long, corolla lobes not spreading when open.  Pedicel slender, 6–10 mm, hypanthium ovoid and both laden with setiform cuticular protuberances.  Calyx lobes 4, 1.5–2 mm × 0.8–1 mm, reaching one fourth of the corolla tube, margins entire, apex acute.  Corolla blue, tube 2–2.2 mm long, lobe 1mm long, oblong, apex acute, glabrous outside and with small hyaline hairs inside at the base.  Stamens 4, inserted, adnate to sinus of corolla lobes, introrse.  Filaments 0.25mm long, glabrous.  Anthers linear 0.75mm.  Style 1.5mm long, glabrous.  Stigma bilobed, 1mm, densely papillose.  Ovary 1×1mm, 2–celled, many ovuled in axile placentation.  Capsule sub-globose, 2×2 mm, loculicidally dehiscent from apex, with slightly raised crown above.  Seeds numerous, trigonal, reticulate 0.3×0.2 mm.

Specimens examined: 361 (GVCH ), 24 vii 2017, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Koomachimala, 10.829°N, 76.676°E, 14m, coll. Aswani & Maya; 177855 (MH) 24.vii.2017, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Koomachimala, 10.829°N, 76.676°E, 14m, coll. Aswani & Maya; 7004 (CALI) 24.vii.2017, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Koomachimala, 10.829°N, 76.676°E, 14m, coll. Aswani & Maya.; 399 (GVCH) 12.viii.2017, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Malampuzha (Koomachimala), 10.834°N, 76.680°E, 48m, coll. Aswani & Arabhi; 543 (GVCH) 15.ix.2017, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Dhoni Hills, Neelippara, 10.8647°N, 76.6282°E, 282m, coll. Aswani & Rekha; 4173 (GVCH) 08.vii.2019, INDIA: Kerala: Palakkad District, Walayar range, Akathethara section, Malampuzha (Koomachimala), 10.829°N, 76.676°E, 15m, coll. Aswani & Jabeena (GVCH– Government Victoria College Herbarium).

Phenology: Flowering: June–August; Fruiting: July–September.

Distribution: India, Kerala: Palakkad, Wayanad, Thrissur districts.

Additional specimens examined: K000031277 (K), s.n. 1972, India, Kerala, Malampuzha near Palghat hardly 100m below, coll. R. Vasudevan Nair; 6945(KFRI), Collection no: N.S. 4635, 22.ix.1987, Peechi, Thrissur, coll. N. Sasidharan.

Ecology: This plant grows at an elevation of 14–252m in hydro geomorphic exposed rock surfaces along with Drosera indica L., Utricularia lazulina P.Taylor, U. graminifolia Vahl, Indigofera uniflora Buch. - Ham. ex Roxb., Desmodium triflorum (L.) DC. and Polygala persicariifolia DC.

Threat status: This taxon could not be recollected from its earlier reported locations of forest areas in Thrissur and Wayanad districts of Kerala except from its type locality near Malampuzha Village very near to Malampuzha Dam region of Palakkad District, Kerala after its first collection in 1972.  Exhaustive surveys across Palghat gap region covering the nearby forest ranges also could not locate the taxon.  This gives us evidence of its narrow distributional range and that it can considered endemic to southern Western Ghats (restricted to Kerala).  Till date, the taxon’s existence was doubted due to lack of collection or further reports.  This may be the reason that the taxon has not yet been evaluated as per the IUCN Red List 2019.  Since the population size is very small, distributed in a narrow stretch of hydro-geomorphic habitats of less than 10km2, the taxon can be assigned the status of Critically Endangered (CR) as per IUCN version 2019-3 (IUCN 2019).


Taxonomic delineation of Oldenlandia hygrophila from O. dineshii and O. pumila

Oldenlandia hygrophila is similar to O. dineshii in quadrangular stem and possession of blue flowers, but differs in the presence of setiform cuticular protuberance all over the plant, solitary axillary flowers smaller in size (2.5–3.0 x 1.5–2.0 mm), corolla lobes not spreading when open, sepals reaching one fourth the length of corolla tube, corolla tube glabrous outside, but with hyaline hairs at the base inside and glabrous staminal filaments. O. hygrophila differs from O. pumila in having erect nature of plant, linear-lanceolate leaves, solitary axillary blue flowers, shorter pedicels, calyx lobes reaching one-fourth the level of corolla lobes, corolla with minute hyaline hairs at the base of corolla tube inside and with sub–globose capsule.  Comparison of taxonomic characters of O. hygrophila with O. dineshii and O. pumila is given in Table 1.



Table 1. Taxonomic delineation of Oldenlandia hygrophila from O. dineshii and O. pumila



Oldenlandia hygrophila

O. dineshii

O. pumila


Erect herb, branched and unbranched, 25–130 mm tall

Erect herb, dichotomously branched 50–200 mm tall

Branched prostrate or diffuse herbs


4–angled, minutely winged with setiform cuticular protuberances

4–angled, minutely winged, glabrous

Acutely angular, minutely dentate on ribs


Linear-lanceolate, setiform cuticular protuberances present, 5–12 × 2–5 mm

Linear-lanceolate, sparsely scabrid, 10–20 × 5–8 mm

Elliptic-lanceolate, 7–18 x 1–6 mm

Leaf margin and leaf apex

Entire with regular setiform cuticular protuberances, recurved, apex acute, base attenuate

 Apex acute, base attenuate

Scabrid above along margin and midrib below


Bristles 3, 1.5–2 mm long, base broad up to 1–1.2 mm, middle one longer than other two

Bristles 2–3, 2–4 mm long, base broad up to 5mm.

Bristles 2–5, 2–3 mm long


Axillary, solitary flowers alternating at nodes

Axillary, solitary or terminal 2–4 flowered cyme

Solitary or 2–flowered cyme


3–3.5 mm long, blue

5–7 mm long, blue, campanulate

3–4 mm long, white


6–10 mm

4–6 mm long

10–15 mm long


Ovoid with setiform cuticular protuberances

Ovoid, puberulous


Level of calyx lobes

One fourth of corolla tube

Much below the corolla tube

Below the level of corolla


Margin entire with setiform cuticular protuberances, apex acute 1.5–2 × 0.8–1 mm long

Margin setulose, apex acute, 0.7–1 × 0.5–0.7 mm long

Margin dentate, lobes 4, rarely 5, ovate–lanceolate or triangular, apex acute, 0.5–0.6 mm long


Lobes not spreading,  tube 2–2.2 mm long, lobes 1mm long, oblong, acute at tip, glabrous outside and minute hyaline hairs at the base of corolla tube inside, apex slightly reflexed

Broadly campanulate, tube 2.5–4 mm long, lobes 2.5–3.5 mm long, minutely pubescent outside glabrous inside, apex reflexed

2mm long, tube 1.2–1.3 mm long, pubescent at throat; lobes 0.5–0.8 x 0.5–0.6 mm, ovate, acute, incurved at apex.


Inserted, filaments 0.25mm long, glabrous

Inserted, filaments 0.7–1 mm long, hairy

Included, filaments 0.2–0.3 mm long



1–1.2 mm

3–4 mm long


Bilobed, papilose

Bifid, hispid

Bilobed, papillose fleshy, tufted hairy


Sub–globose 2×2 mm

Ovoid, 2.5–3 × 1.5–2.5 mm

Ellipsoid or oblong-ovoid


Many, angular, with minor grooves 0.2–0.3 x 0.2–0.3 mm

Many, angular 0.3–0.5 x 0.3–0.5 mm

Many, 0.7 x 0.1 mm, angular



For figure & images - - click here





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