Additions to the fern flora of Nagaland, North East India

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Authors

A. BENNIAMIN1*, M.S. SUNDARI2 & D. TRIPATHI1

1Botanical Survey of India, Western Regional Centre, Pune – 411001
2Department of Botany, St.Mary’s College, Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu  
*Corresponding author: A. Benniamin; email: fernsbenni@gmail.com

Abstract

Two ferns viz Belvisia henryi (Hieron ex C. Chr.) Raym. and Asplenium prolongatum Hooker are first recorded from the Nagaland, North East Irndia. Taxonomic description, synonyms, distribution information, specimen examined, distribution map and photographs are provided for each species.

Keywords Belvisia henryi, Asplenium prolongatum, Nagaland, North East India

Introduction

Nagaland, one of the hill states in northeast India supports very rich and luxuriant vegetation. It lies between 25°6″-27°4″ N, 93°20″-95°15″ E is bordered on the north by Arunachal Pradesh, on the west and north west by Assam on the south by Manipur and on the east by Myanmar. The total area of Nagaland is 16759 sq.km. The Tezu is the main river that has cut through the Naga range and flows east of Myanmar. Saramathi is the highest peak (3826m) on the Naga range and there are other peaks over 3000m high. Further west are the Kohima hills, the highest peak of the Kohima hills forms the topography with hill and valley. This state is famous hunting ground for a number of British botanists from time to time (Buchanan-Hamilton 1820; Roxburgh,1820-24, Griffith,1837, Hooker,1854,1972-1897; Hooker and Thomson,1855,Clarke,1880, Bor,1940, 1942) They only dealt with Flowering plants. Very few workers (Clarke 1880, 1889, Panigraghi 1960, Jamir & Rao 1988) are reported pteridophytes from Nagaland.

During the recent pteridophytic explorations, the author could collect two ferns from Nagaland. After critical study with herbarium specimens and consulting with literature, it has identified as Belvisia henryi (Hieron.ex C.Chr.) Raym. (Polypodiaceae) and Asplenium prolongatum Hooker.(Aspleniaceae) which are very rare and its present record is new for Nagaland. The occurrence of these ferns is of phyto-geographical significance and hence reported here.

Taxonomic Describtions

Belvisia henryi (Hieron.) ex C. Chr. Panigraghi ex patnaik, Curr.Sci.34:127,1965;. Hymenolepis henryi Hieronymous ex C. Christensen in Densk. Bot. Ark. 6(3): 67. 1929. Belvisia spicata sensu Beddome, Handb. Ferns Brit. India 432. 1883, (pro parte). Hymenolepis callifolia Christ in Ann. Buitenz., ser.2, 5: 128. 1905. Belvisia callifola (Christ) Copeland, Gen. Fil. 192. 1947; Baishya & Rao, Ferns & Fern-allies Meghalaya 56. 1982 ( pro parte, excl. t.19). Gymnopteris spicata var. latifrons Beddome, Handb. Ferns Brit. India Suppl.104. 1892.(Figure 2)

Rhizome short creeping, the scale blackish, clathrate with very thick cell walls, from a broad roundish base it narrowed into a long , almost hair like apex, short ciliate, sometime basal portion with medium size cilia, Frond densely tufted, subsessile, stipes 1-2mm long, lamina thinly coriaceous, pale green, 10-20cm long,1-4.5 cm broad shortly narrowed towards spike or often suddenly contracted, some times equally on both sides but usually one side gradually, otherside suddenly contracted truncate, surfaces naked, veins hidden or faintly visible, no prominent main veins, spike 2-15 cm long 1-4 mm broad, without constriction at base, margin recurved. Sporangia borne on linear receptacles close to the midrib rarely covering whole underside but leaving margin and as a rule also midrib uncovered, paraphyses numerous with thick black walls Rhizome scales narrowly lanceolate, cordate, dark-brown. Stipe very short, bearing narrow blackish-brown scales. Lamina 15-30 cm long, 2.5 cm broad, oblong, narrowed at base, wide at apex, abruptly rounded, coriaceous, pale green, bearing fertile apex upto 15 cm long, narrowly contracted, finely pubescent. Veins inconspicuous, reticulate, included veinlets bifurcate, ending in dark hydathodes. Sporangia numerous, short stalked.

Ecology: Grows on moss-covered tree trunks in forest; Alt: 1850m.

Fertile: April – December

Specimen examined: Nagaland, Tuensang district, Nongchungang, Shemjila forest area A.Benniamin 28431 (ARUN) 22/7/2011

Distribution: Eastern India: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Manipur, Meghalaya, West Bengal. Recorded for the first time in Nagaland. Nepal, Bhutan, China (Yunnan)

Asplenium prolongatum Hooker, 2nd Fertile: Cent. Ferns t.42. 1860; Asplenium rutaefolium Kunze in Linnaea 10: 521. 1836; Beddome, Ferns S. India t.138. 1865 & Handb. Ferns Brit. India 159. 1883.(Figure 3).

Rhizome short, ascending, dense scaly; scales ca 0.5 cm long, lanceolate, thick, dark brown, margin hyaline. Stipe caespitose, 10-16 cm long, slender, glabrous, pale green. Lamina bipinnatifid, 12-20 cm long, 2.5-3.5 cm wide, oblong, apex caudate; rachis distinct, same as the stipe, prolonged the growth at the apex, bearing a vegetative bud at the tip. Pinnae crowded, cuneate at base to a short stalk, dark green, thin, pinnately segmented; segments linear-subulate, often bilobed, entire, rounded at apex, acroscopic basal segment further segmented. Costae not well developed, represented by a single vein. Veins simple, single in each segment. Sori linear, medial, dorsal along the vein, solitary in each segment. Indusium pale greenish, thin, entire, opening outwards.

Ecology: Grows as Epiphytes near streamside, alt 1450m.

Fertile: July – December.

Specimen examined: Nagaland, Mokochung district, Longtum sacred grove forest, A. Benniamin 28413, (ARUN) 08-07-2011.

Distribution: Assam, Meghalaya, Peninsular India- Tamil Nadu. Recorded for the first time in Nagaland. Bhutan, China, Fiji, Japan, S.Africa, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam

  

Acknowledgement

The author is grateful to Dr. P. Singh, Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata, for providing facilities and encouragement. Thanks are also to the Forest Department for logistic support during the study.

References

Buchanan-Hamilton, F.1820. An account of Assam with some notices concerning the neighbouring territories. London.

Bor, N.L. 1942. The relict vegetation of the Shillong plateau, Assam. Ind.For.Rec. 3:152-195.

Bor, N.L. 1940. Gramineae (Vol.5), Flora of Assam. Governement press, Shillong

Clarke, C.B. 1880. A review of the ferns of Northern India. Trans. Linn.Soc.ser. 2(Bot.) 1:425-611.

Griffith, W. 1837. Journal of a visit to Mishmee hills in Assam J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal. 6:325-41.

Hooker, J.D. 1872-1897. The Flora of British India 7 Vols. London.

Hooker, J.D. & Thomson, T. 1855. Flora Indica, London.

Jamir, N.S. &  Rao, R.R. 1988. Ferns of Nagaland, Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh Dehradun.

Masters, J.W. 1844. Observation in the Flora of Naga Hills J. Asiat. Soc. Bengal 13(2):707-734.

Panigrahi, G. 1962 ["1960"]. Pteridophytes of the Eastern India – 1. Enumeration of the species collected and their nomenclature, Bull. Bot. Surv. India 2(3&4):309-314.

Roxburgh, W. 1820-24. Flora Indica. A Describtion of Indian Plants, Serampore.

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