"All flesh is grass ..."

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A b s t r a c t s (Contd...)


Grass crops form the source of many food chains and provides 80% of World’s food. It is estimated that in addition to the above at least 300 grass species are known to be harvested in the wild as cereals. Hindustan centre is one of the twelve centres of mega diversity of plant genetic resources which has contributed significantly to the world’s plant genetic resources. The Peninsular India forms the important genetic resource centre for many grass crops which includes cereals, millets, sugarcane, lemon grass, ginger grass etc. More than 80% of the grass-crop relatives represented in Peninsular India, which include many of the endemic species, occurs in Western Ghats of India especially in the Southern Western Ghats region.


Surveying and inventorying the plant genetic resources is one of the primary activity of the global plan of action for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture (Leipzig Declaration, 1996). It is found that 3 cereals (rice, wheat, maize), 3 millets (bajra, ragi, italian millet), 2 Cymbopogon sp. and sugarcane are known to be cultivated in Southern Western Ghat region as major grass crops. In addition to the above, there are 11 cereals cultivated as minor crops. Details of about 50 wild relatives of relevant grass crops in Southern western Ghat region are documented here. The present poster also highlights a brief account of distribution, endemism and recommendations on conservation measures to be taken on these valuable grass genetic resources.


>> M.S.Kiran Raj & M. Sivadasan. 2006. National Conference on Forest Biodiversity Resources: Exploitation, Conservation and Management on 21-22 March. Madurai Kamaraj University, Madurai.  12 p. <<



Grasses (Poaceae) play a major role in the life and development of mankind. They occupy a significant position in many traditional medicines including Ayurveda, but their importance is poorly documented.  There are several potential grasses that produce grass oil which are used in medical systems like Ayurveda, Allopathy, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, etc.


Poaceae is the largest angiosperm family in India, and is represented by over 1300 species under 270 genera. The exact grass diversity of the Western Ghats is poorly known due to the lack of a comprehensive systematic study. Roughly, about 600 species belonging to 170 genera are known to be represented in this region.

A preliminary study revealed that about 38 grass species of Western Ghats region are known to be of aromatic/medicinal value. Among these, 21 species are widely known for their curative effect in different diseases. The medicinal values of the remaining species are less known and have remained as ethnic knowledge. Out of the 38 recorded medicinal grasses, 12 are endemic to Western Ghats with restricted distribution.


The grasses like Arundo donax L., Cynodon dactylon Pers., Desmostachya bipinnata (L.) Stapf,  Heteropogon contortus L., Chrysopogon zizanioides (L.) Roberty, C. aciculatus (Retz.) Trin., Saccharum spontaneum L., etc. are widely used as traditional medicines in Western Ghats region. There are 7 species belonging to 2 genera (Chrysopogon Trin. & Cymbopogon Spreng.) of grasses from which aromatic grass oils – Vetiver oil, Palmerosa oil, Citronella oil, Lemon grass oil, Ginger grass oil – are extracted and used. During the present study, attempts have been made to explore and evaluate the aromatic species of the genera like Anthoxanthum L., Bothriochloa Kutze, Melinis P. Beauv. and Capillipedium Stapf which are less known and not at all or under-utilized.


>> M. S. Kiran Raj & M. Sivadasan. 2007. National Conference on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. December 10-12. Gulbarga University, Karnataka. 52p. <<


Kerala State, the land of backwaters, is endowed with rich plant diversity. The wetland ecosystems of the state are usually located in the low altitude regions that comprise a high species diversity and endemism among grasses. The under stories of many marshes and forested wetlands of Kerala are dominated by grasses and sedges. The wetland grasses encompass those species found in swamps of high altitude regions and margins of pools, backwaters, puddles, and swamps along the coastal regions.

A recent survey revealed that out of the approximately 400 grass species recorded from Kerala, about 230 species belonging to 22 genera are inhabited in both uplands and wetland areas. Among those, about 140 species are exclusively found in wetlands. The genera such as Aeluropus, Echinochloa, Elytrophorus, Hygroryza, Hymenachne, Leersia, Leptochloa, Phragmitis, Pseudoraphis, Sacciolepis, Acroceras, Spinifex, etc.are found only in wetland or coastal region in the State. Interestingly, the tribe Isachneae is represented in the State by three genera viz., Limnopoa, Isachne, and Coelachne, and are being restricted distribution in wetland regions alone. The study also revealed the occurrence of 36 Western Ghat endemic grass species and one endemic genus (Limnopoa) including rare and endangered taxa.

The importance of wetland grasses and their role in conservation of Biodiversity and maintenance of vegetation structure is poorly understood. A preliminary observation  of their uses and functions revealed their importance as valuable genetic resources for development of cultivated crops such as rice, millets etc, as riparian buffers for shore line stabilization and flood control, as filter strips for wetland restoration and water purification, for erosion control, sewage treatments, and for mitigating climate change.

            The paper also presents observations on occurrence and status of distribution of wetland grasses in the State.


>> M. S. Kiran Raj & M. Sivadasan 2007. International Seminar on Present Trends and Future Prospectus of Angiosperm Taxonomy on 4–6 October. Agharkar Research Institute, Pune.<<