List of Rare and Endangered Indian Plants

Updated on August 4, 2016

An endangered species is a native species that faces a significant risk of extinction in the near future throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Such species may be declining in number due to threats such as habitat destruction, climate change, or pressure from invasive species.

The term endangered species can be used either in a general or legal context. When used in a general sense, the term describes a species that faces a risk of extinction but does not necessarily indicate that the species is protected under any law.

When used in a legal context, the term refers specifically to a species that is listed on the US Endangered Species List and is defined legally as an animal or plant species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.

According to a report published in the scientific journal, 'Science,' between 22% and 47% of the world's plant species are endangered.

The flora of India is one of the richest in the world due to the country's wide range of climate, topology, and environment. There are over 15,000 species of flowering plants in India which account for 6% of all plant species in the world. Many plant species are being destroyed, however, due to their prevalent removal.

Roughly 1/4 of all plant species in the world are at risk of being endangered or going extinct. The combination of global warming and habitat destruction is the sole reason for the disappearance of many plants. Though there are thousands of interesting and unusual plants, here are some common plants which have become rare and endangered species in the past 30 years due to habitat destruction.

Endangered Plants in India

Plant
Also Known As
Region (Status)
Polygala irregularis
Milkwort
Gujarat (rare)
Lotus corniculatus
Bird's foot
Gujarat (rare)
Amentotaxus assamica
Assam catkin yew
Arunachal Pradesh (threatened)
Psilotum nudum
Moa, skeleton, fork fern, and whisk fern
Karnataka (rare)
Diospyros celibica
Ebony tree
Karnataka (threatened)
Actinodaphne lawsonii
 
Kerala (threatened)
Acacia planifrons
Umbrella tree, kudai vel (Tamil)
Tamil Nadu (rare)
Abutilon indicum
Indian mallow, thuthi (Tamil) and athibalaa (Sanskrit)
Tamil Nadu (rare)
Chlorophytum tuberosum
Musli
Tamil Nadu
Chlorophytum malabaricum
Malabar lily
Tamil Nadu (threatened)
Nymphaea tetragona
 
Jammu (endangered), Kashmir (threatened)
Belosynapsis vivipara
Spider wort
Madhya Pradesh (rare and endangered)
Colchicum luteum
 
Himachal Pradesh (rare and threatened)
Pterospermum reticulatum
Malayuram, Malavuram
Kerala (rare), Tamil Nadu (threatened)
Ceropegia odorata
Jeemikanda (Gujarat)
Gujarat, Melghat Tiger, Rajasthan, and Salsette Island, (endangered)

1. Polygala irregularis

Gujarat (rare)

Polygala vulgaris; CC BY-SA 3.0
Polygala vulgaris; CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Commonly known as milkwort, this plant is both an annual and perennial herb. It blooms during July and August. The plants are found at an altitude of 1000 meters. The flowers are found in blue, off-white, pink, and white. The plants have been destroyed to make room for human habitats and use land for agriculture.

2. Lotus corniculatus

Gujarat (rare)

Lotus corniculatus
Lotus corniculatus | Source

This plant belongs to the pea family. The plant bears pretty little yellow flowers that grow in a circle at the end of the stem. They are very bright and are easily spotted along the roadside. It is used in agriculture as a forage plant. It is also grown for pasture, hay and silage. The plants are perennial and herbaceous, similar to some clover. They are also called bird’s foot, which refers to the appearance of the seed pods on their stalk.

3. Amentotaxus assamica

Arunachal Pradesh (threatened)

Amentotaxus assamica
Amentotaxus assamica

This plant is also called the Assam catkin yew. They are shrubs or small trees found in the moist deciduous forest of Assam. It belongs to a species of coniferous trees found only in India. They are found in three regions of Arunachal Pradesh, including the hills of Turoo, Delei Valley, and the hills of Dafla.

4. Psilotum nudum

Karnataka (rare)

Psilotum nudum
Psilotum nudum | Source

Also known as moa, skeleton, fork fern, and whisk fern, this plant is both rootless and leafless, forming low growing clumps. The plant produces abundant spores which are collected and used for making powder. In Greek, 'psilo' means bare. The scientific name reflects the plant's appearance where many of the organs which would normally present in a plant are absent in this one, including leaves, flowers, and roots. You can use the whisk fern as a small broom by tying a handful of its branches together.

6. Diospyros celibica

Karnataka (threatened)

Diospyros celebica - Manado
Diospyros celebica - Manado | Source

Also called the ebony tree, this is a flowering tree that is highly regarded by woodworkers as its wood is widely used for making high quality furniture. The trees can grow up to 20 metres high under favourable conditions. However, in the past two centuries, it has become very scarce and is hardly found anymore in India.

7. Actinodaphne lawsonii

Kerala (threatened)

Actinodaphne
Actinodaphne

This plant belongs to the lauraceae family. It is endemic to India though threatened by habitat loss. The canopy or sub canopy trees can be found in the high elevation evergreen forest between 1,200 and 2,400 meters. The leaves are aromatic and have medicinal use.

8. Acacia planifrons

Tamil Nadu (rare)

Acacia planifron
Acacia planifron | Source

Also called the umbrella thorn, this plant grows as a shrub or a short tree. In Tamil they are called kudai vel. The tree is used as fuel and fodder for sheep and goats. When the tree is fully grown, it looks like a spread umbrella.

9. Abutilon indicum

Tamil Nadu (rare)

Abutilon indicum
Abutilon indicum | Source

Commonly known as Indian mallow, this plant is a small shrub in the Malvaceae family found in a number of tropical and subtropical zones. The plant was much used in Siddha medicine and its root, bark, flowers and leaves have all been used for medicinal purposes. It is called thuthi in Tamil and athibalaa in Sanskrit.

10. Chlorophytum tuberosum

Tamil Nadu

Chlorophytum tuberosum
Chlorophytum tuberosum | Source

This is an endangered plant that is also called musli. It is a flowering plant native to Africa and India. It has historical uses in Ayurveda and is commonly used for strength and vigour. The plant belongs to the Liliaceae family.

11. Chlorophytum malabaricum

Tamil Nadu (threatened)

Chlorophytum malabaricum
Chlorophytum malabaricum

This plant is also known as malabar lily. It is found in the Western Ghats. It is a small herb with a stem closely attached with leaves. Flowers are star shaped and highly fragrant.

12. Nymphaea tetragona

Jammu and Kashmir (endangered and threatened)

The nymphaea tetragona is a pygmy water lily, the tropical representative of diminutive water lilies. The original distribution was confined to Jammu, Kashmir, and Megalaya. It is a very small herb and very susceptible to pests and disease. These plants are found on the Indian subcontinent where Buddhist monks conserved them as ritual plants in temple gardens for offerings.

13. Belosynapsis vivipara

Madhya Pradesh (rare and endangered)

Belosynapsis vivipara
Belosynapsis vivipara | Source

In India, this plant is represented by three species, namely B epiphytica, B kewensis, and B vivipara. Commonly called spider wort, you can find them from India and South Asia to New Guinea. The plants usually grow at a high elevation on tree trunks densely covered in moss and on branches of trees in shady, evergreen riparian forests. This species is on the verge of extinction and is very important to biodiversity.

14. Colchicum luteum

Himachal Pradesh (rare and threatened)

Colchicum luteum
Colchicum luteum | Source

This herb is generally found between elevations of 2,000 to 9,000 feet. Its tuberous root is oval in shape and bears dark brown leaves that are 6 to 12 inches in length and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in width. The flowers are hermaphroditic. It is a medicinal herb used to suppress pain and heal open wounds.

15. Pterospermum reticulatum

Kerala (rare), Tamil Nadu (threatened)

Pterospermum reticulatum
Pterospermum reticulatum | Source

These trees can grow up to 20m tall and are commonly known as Malayuram or Malavuram. It is a flowering plant of Sterculiaceae family. Found only in India, these plants are threatened due to habitat loss. The bark is greyish in color with simple alternative leaves and flowers that are white and fragrant. They are sub-canopy trees found in evergreen forests at a height of 1000m.

16. Ceropegia odorata

(endangered)

Cerophagia Odorata
Cerophagia Odorata | Source

These plants can be found only in four places in India: Pavagah in Gujarat, Tarubanda in Melghat Tiger, and Salsette Island, as well as at Mount Abu in Rajasthan where it may now be extinct. It is found only at a high altitude of about 3000 metres where it is unreachable by human beings.

It is the only species of the genus whose flowers have a very strong fragrance, hence the name odorata. They bloom for a few days. They are called jeemikanda in Gujarat. These plants have medicinal values and are chewed to cure stomach pain. Juice from the tubers is used in medications for the eye.

What Happens When Plants Go Extinct

When some species of plants become extinct, the whole ecosystem of that environment changes or gets disturbed, depending on their importance. The ecosystem is never the same after a plant's total disappearance.

Animals or other plants that depend on that plant may also become extinct because of its loss.

Roughly how many plant species are endangered in India?

See results

© 2013 cheeluarv

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