Important Tree Species of Meghalaya
Important Tree Species
Rare, Endangered and Threatened Plant Species
A recent review of literature carried out Meghalaya Biodiversity Board reveals that a total of 436 Rare, Endangered and Threatened plant species have been recorded from Meghalaya representing 13.09% of the state’s flora. Gastrochilus calceolaris, Gymnocladus assamicus, Illichium griffithii, Pterocybium tinctorium, Saurauia punduana, Taxus baccata and Vatica lanceafolia are few of the Critically Endangered plant species of Meghalaya.
Extinct Plant Species
Carex repanda, Cyclea debiliflora, Dendrobenthamia capitata, Hedychium hookeri, Homiorchis rhodorrhachis, Michelia lanuginose, Morinda villosa, Nymphaea pygmaea, Pleione lagenaria, Premna punduana, Schleichera trijuga, Sterculia khasiana and Talauma rabaniana are considered to have gone extinct in Meghalaya.
Endemic Plant Species:
They are species with restricted range of distribution. A recent review of literature carried out by Meghalaya Biodiversity Board reveals a total of 281 Endemic plant species have been recorded from Meghalaya representing 8.44% of the state’s flora. Of these, around 102 are listed under various Threat Categories and two in the Extinct Category. Ilex khasiana and Nepenthes khasiana are the Endemic and Critically Endangered species.
Some of the Endemic and Endangered species found in Meghalaya are Adinandra griffithii, Ceropegia arnottiana, Clematis apiculata, Elaeagnus conferta ssp. dendroidea, Eriocaulon barba-caprae, Goniothalamus simonsii, Ilex venulosa, Livistona jenkinsiana, Ophiorrhiza subcapitata and Trivalvaria kanjilalii.
Meghalaya is endowed with a rich and luxuriant orchid flora of nearly 352 species belonging to 98 genera representing 27.08% of the country’s orchid flora. For several centuries, orchids have been known for their attractive flowers and their medicinal properties. The majority of the orchids are epiphytes, however, lithophytes, terrestrials and saprophytes are also encountered. They are found to inhabit ranges from Sub-tropical evergreen to moist mixed deciduous types of forests. Aerides multiflorum, Coelogyne corymbosa, Cymbidium elegans, Dendrobium devonianum, Dendrobium longicornu, Paphiopedilum insigne, Rhynchostylis retusa, Phaius tankervilliae, Thunia marshalliana and Vanda coerulea are few of the exotic orchids of Meghalaya.
Bamboo and Canes:
The state harbours more than 37 species of Bamboos belonging to 14 genera. Some of the important genera are Arundinaria, Bambusa, Cephalostachyum, Chimonobambusa, Dendrocalamus, Dinochloa, Gigantochloa, Melocanna, Neohouzeoua, Oxytenanthera, Phyllostachys, Pseudostachyum, Schizostachyum, Teinostachyum and Thamnocalamus. Arundinaria hirsuta, A. manii, Bambusa jaintiana, B. mastersii, B. pseudopallida, Cephalostachyum pallidum, Chimonobambusa callosa, Chimonobambusa griffithiana, Chimonobambusa khasiana, Chimonobambusa polystachya, Dendrocalamus sikkimensis, Phyllostachys manii, Schizostachyum dulloa, Schizostachyum griffithi, Schizostachyum helferi, S. manii, S. pallidum, Schizostachyum polymorphum and Thamnocalamus prainii are endemic.
Cane (Calamus sp) is a woody climber and several species are known to occur in Meghalaya. It is usually found to inhabit warm and moist climate at lower elevations. Calamus erectus and C. floribundus are the endemic canes occurring in the state. Cane and Bamboo craft is a very important handicraft sector in Meghalaya.
Of the total 3,331 plant species recorded in the state around 834 (25.04%) are estimated to be employed in healthcare. These species are distributed in 548 genera and 166 families. The family with the highest number of medicinal plant species is Rubiaceae followed by Asteraceae and Fabaceae. These species are restricted mainly to sacred groves, community forests and reserved forests and some to grasslands, roadsides, cults and fields, etc.
Due to high level of exploitation and faulty harvesting techniques, many of the endemic species such as Acanthus leucostachys, Calamus erectus, C. aurantium, C. latipes, Curcuma montana, Daphniphyllum himalense, Eleaegnus conferta ssp. dendroidea, Goniothalamus simonsii, Hedera nepalensis, Hymenodictyon excelsum, Ilex embeloides, Mahonia pycnophylla, Munronia pinnata, Nepenthes khasiana, Ochna squarrosa, Ophiorrhiza sub-capitata, Paramignya micrantha, Piper peepuloides, Schima khasiana and Sophora accuminata have been rendered rare.