Seasonal Wetland Flora of the Laterite Plateaus of Coastal Uttara Kannada
1Energy and Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences [CES], Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560012, India.
2Department of applied Botany, Mangalore University, Mangalore
*Corresponding author:


‘Laterite’ is the Latin word for brick. Francis Buchanan (1807) described laterite for the first time in Angadipuram in Kerala.  Generally laterites are noted for their presence of large amounts of hydrated iron, aluminum and manganese oxides and harden on exposure to air; in wet conditions they are softer, and can be cut easily, cured and used as bricks. Bourgeon (1989) considers laterites/lateritic soils as characteristic of the coastal hinterland of Western Karnataka. This hinterland is formed by the dissection of old laterized geomorphic levels. In this geological relief closer to the coast are laterite capped mesas (tablelands with steep sides). These hardened flat topped, laterite highlands, seldom ever increasing 100 m in heights are striking features of the coast of southern Uttara Kannada. These tablelands on closer look are rugged in nature with micro-heterogenity of protrusions, flatness and depressions, and in places interrupted with quarries from which bricks for construction are cut out. The convex portions are totally eroded, dark and honey combed in appearance, and nearly bare of any kind of vegetation, except certain hardy shrubs and dwarfish trees like Sapium insigne, Flacourtia indica, Ficus arnottiana etc., the latter a remarkable plant which has roots clinging on firmly to the rock boulders which are practically destitute of soil. The depressed areas and shallow pits having thin layer of soil turn into a veritable treasure trove of herbaceous flora during the peak of rainy season, especially from end June to mid-September when the laterite plateaus as a whole turn into a carpet of greenery, of marshes and bogy places and flatter portions all covered with a rich and rarely explored flora of bewildering diversity, a picture of which is presented here. This study highlights the present status of some laterite plateaus in coastal Uttara Kannada in relation to their floral diversity, endemism and, their threatening anthropogenic pressures in coastal Uttara Kannada.

Citation : Rao G.R., Krishnakumar G., Subash Chandran M.D. and Ramachandra. T.V, 2012. Seasonal Wetland Flora of the Laterite Plateaus of Coastal Uttara Kannada., Proceedings of the LAKE 2012: National Conference on Conservation and Management of Wetland Ecosystems, 06th - 09th November 2012, School of Environmental Sciences, Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, Kerala, pp. 1-9.
* Corresponding Author :
Dr. T.V. Ramachandra
Energy & Wetlands Research Group, Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore – 560 012, India.
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