Cassipourea ceylanica (Gardn.) Alston (1925) (Rhizophoraceae) in Karnataka


Divakar K. Mesta 1, Harsha V. Hegde 2, Vinayak Upadhya 2, G.R. Rao 3, Ganesh R. Hegde 4  & S.D. Kholkute 2


1,2 Regional Medical Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research), Nehru Nagar, Belgaum, Karnataka, India

3 Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, Karnataka, India.

4 Department of Botany, Karnatak University, Dharwad, Karnataka, India

1 Present address: Smt. Parvatibai Chowgule College of Arts and Science, Gogol-Margao, Goa, India

Email: 1



Date of publication (online): 26 October 2009

Date of publication (print): 26 October 2009

ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)


Editor: K. Ravikumar


Manuscript details:

Ms # o2195

Received 05 May 2009

Final received 15 September 2009

Finally accepted 18 September 2009


Citation: Mesta, D.K., H.V. Hegde, V. Upadhya, G.R. Rao, G.R. Hegde & S.D. Kholkute (2009). Cassipourea ceylanica (Gardn.) Alston (1925) (Rhizophoraceae) in Karnataka. Journal of Threatened Taxa 1(10): 530-532.


Copyright: © Divakar K. Mesta, Harsha V. Hegde, Vinayak Upadhya, G.R. Rao, Ganesh R. Hegde & S.D. Kholkute 2009. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. JoTT allows unrestricted use of this article in any medium for non-profit purposes, reproduction and distribution by providing adequate credit to the authors and the source of publication.


Acknowledgement: Authors are thankful to Dr. Gopalkrishna Bhat for identification of plant specimen; Joint Director, Botanical Survey of India, Southern Circle, Coimbatore (MH) for permission to compare the specimen and library facility; Mr. Shankar, RMRC for the help in drawing and NMPB New Delhi for financial assistance. Thanks are also due to the unknown referee for critical comments and suggestions.




For Figures & Images – click here


During a medicinal plant collection survey tour in September 2008, Cassipourea ceylanica (Gardn.) Alston belonging to the family Rhizophoraceae was collected from Uttara Kannada (North Kanara) District in the central Western Ghats of Karnataka.  The voucher specimen of the collection is deposited at the Herbarium of Regional Medical Research Centre (ICMR), Belgaum.  The identity was confirmed by comparing with specimens housed at the Madras Herbarium (MH), Botanical Survey of India, Southern Circle, Coimbatore.

The family Rhizophoraceae is represented by 17 genera and 120 species (Zhong et al. 2002).  It is pantropical and all members are either trees or shrubs; many are mangroves, widely distributed along tropical coastlines, while some species of Carallia, Blepharistemma and Cassipourea grow both in primary and successional moist inland forests.  The genus Cassipourea includes 40 species, and C. ceylanica is known to be distributed only in southern India and Sri Lanka.  In India it has been recorded earlier from Tamil Nadu (Nair & Henry 1983), Kerala (Beddome 1872; Nayar et al. 2006), Orissa (Brahmam 2001) and Goa (Prabhugaonkar et al. 2007).  From Sri Lanka it was reported by William & Fosberg (1981).

Trimen (1984) mentions its commonness in low country in the dry districts and rarity elsewhere in most regions of Sri Lanka.  Gamble (1935) reported it from Western Ghats of Tamil Nadu, in the hills of Tinnevelly, Tamil Nadu and Travancore (presently belong to Kerala) at low elevations.  Haines (1925) reported it from Chilka lake of Orissa.  The plant was documented again by Saxena & Brahmam (1995) from the same locality.  Recently it has been reported from northern Western Ghats in Goa, near a water fall, with a population of only 12 individuals (Prabhugaonkar et al. 2007).  The earliest record of this plant in Karnataka was by Hooker (1878) who reported the distribution range as “Maisor and Carnatic” where Maisore is likely to be the Mysore of Karnataka.  Since its first report, this plant has not been reported by any other subsequent workers in Karnataka.  However, Gadgil et al. (2004) mention that C. ceylanica is a threatened species in Karnataka, based on the WCMC (UNEP) report without quoting any voucher specimen.  Therefore the present record of this plant from Karnataka, after a gap of about 130 years reaffirms its existence in the state.

The plant was sighted along a stream bank in the evergreen forest patch of Ankola Taluka (Uttara Kannada District) with a population of around 15 individuals.  The detailed description of the plant with figures of different parts and photographs (Fig. 1; Images 1-3) are provided to enable its easy identification.


Cassipourea ceylanica (Gardn.)

Alston in Kew Bull. 1925: 251; Nayar et al. in Flower.  Plants of Kerala, 2006; Prabhugaonkar et al. in Ind. J. For. 30(1), 81-82, 2007. Weihea zeylanica Baill., in Adansonia iii, 38, 1862; Hooker in Fl. Brit. Ind. ii. 441, 1878; Anstrutheria zeylanica Gardn. in Calc. Journ. Nat. History vi. 344, 1846; Bedd., in Fl. Sylv. t. 194, 1872; Weihea ceylanica Baill., Brandis, Ind.  Trees 306, 1906; Bourdillon, For. Trees of Travancore, 171, 1908; Gamble, Flora Pres. Madras, 1, 460, 1935.


A large shrub or small evergreen tree, branched from the base; young parts glabrous.  Leaves simple, opposite, 4.5-11.5 x 2.5-5.5 cm, broadly ovate, rounded at base, obtusely acuminate, entire, glabrous, shining above, rather paler beneath; petioles ca. 6mm long; stipules interpetiolar, lanceolate, acute, ciliate, ca. 4mm long.  Flowers bisexual, axillary, solitary, or rarely 2 or 3 on short curved pedicels; buds small, globular, completely enclosed by two thick, cup-shaped, rounded, ciliate bracts.  Calyx-tubes shortly turbinate, adnate to the ovary; segments 4-5, oblong-lanceolate, 11 x 8 mm, acute, spreading, valvate, densely silky outside, persistant, accrescent, ultimately deflexed.  Petals 4-5, hypogynous, inserted under the margin of an obscure disk, clawed, spathulate, 15 x 10 mm, fimbriate, white, cauducous.  Stamens 16-30, hypogynous, inserted on the disk; filaments filiform; anthers oblong.  Ovary superior, 3-celled with two pendulous ovules in each cell; styles filiform, persistent; stigma obscurely 3-lobed.  Fruit a fleshy capsule, globose, tipped with long persistent style, splitting into 3-4-valves, 3-celled, the cells 1-2-seeded. Seeds ovoid, arillate.

Flowering and fruiting: July-September.  In the present locality the plant was observed bearing flower buds almost throughout the year. Hooker also mentions the prolonged nature (six months) of flower bud existence.

Habitat: Found along the streams on steep slopes in association with Dimorphocalyx lawianus J. Hooker and Tricalysia sphaerocarpa (Dalz.) Gamble.  The location is close to a Myristica swamp with some endemic species like Gymnacranthera canarica (King) Warb., Dipterocarpus indicus Bedd. and two critically endangered tree species namely Syzygium travancoricum Gamble and Madhuca bourdillonii (Gamble) Lam. (Chandran et al. 2008).

Distribution: Southern peninsula in India and Sri Lanka. In India- along the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa; Eastern Ghats in Orissa.

The present report of C. ceylanica from Karnataka connects the presence between Kerala and Goa States and there is every likelihood of its occurrence elsewhere between these gaps along streams of some relic and evergreen forests.  Its rarity in the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats indicates its thinner population status and therefore warrants immediate actions for its conservation and restoration. Occurrence of Gerrardine (Kato et al. 1984) and Sulfur-containing Amides Cassipoureamide -A and -B in the stem wood (Ichimaru et al. 2000) of its closely related C. guianensis Aubl. can be a clue for further study of C. ceylanica for its chemical composition and to explore its potential medicinal value.

Note: Among the Rhizophoraceae this is the only genus with superior ovary.  Presence of interpetiolar stipule can mislead it as a member of Rubiaceae.  Trimen (1984) mentioned that the structure of flower is completely thalamifloral and stated “hence Gardner and others have referred it to Tiliaceae (Elaeocarpaceae) and Moon to Elaeocarpus itself to which its petals so much resemble”.

Specimens studied: India, Karnataka, Uttara Kannada District, Ankola, 18.xi.2008, Divakar K. Mesta, Harsha V.  Hegde & Vinayak Upadhya, 468 (RMRC - Regional Medical Research Centre); Tamil Nadu, Kanyakumari District, Inchikuzhi, 5.vii.1964, A.N. Henry & M. Chandrabose, 19275 (MH); Tinavalley, Mundanthurai Ghats,, C.A. Barber, 19868 (MH); Panagudi, Kannu Pulicadu, 5.ii.1972, B.D. Sharma, 17955 (MH); Manimuthar Dam, 18.x.1957, K.M. Sebastine, 8795 & 8796 (MH).



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