Reproductive biology of two threatened and highly traded medicinal plants, Salacia gambleana and Salacia oblonga, from the Western Ghats of India

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P.S. Krishnasree
P.A. Jose
K. Subin
T.V. Sarath


Salacia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Celastraceae, consisting of woody climbers distributed in tropical America, Africa, and Asia. In India it is represented by 21 species, of which 15 occur in peninsular India. Most species of the genus have been used in traditional medicine, mainly the Ayurvedic system. Apart from overexploitation for medicinal purposes, the low fruit set and infestation of seeds have affected natural regeneration, and led to the rarity of Salacia species in their natural habitats. The reproductive biology of Salacia oblonga and S. gambleana was studied for the first time to understand the reproductive constraints of these threatened and medicinally important species. The flowering phenology, pollen viability, germination, stigma receptivity, and insect-pest interaction were analyzed. The obligatory entomophily coupled with insufficient pollinators and seed pest infestation were found to be the main reproductive constraints responsible for the low fruit set and poor natural regeneration of these species.

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