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THE INDIAN SPECIES OF ERIOCAULON.

BY

P. F. FYSON, B.A., F.L.S.

Presidency College, Madras.


The difficulty of identifying from published descriptions the species of ERIOCAULON found in South India led me finally to attempt a revision of the Indian species from material available in the herbaria of this country. A full account with photographs of the type or other sheet of most of the species will appear in the Records of the Botanical Survey of India, but as it seems probable that it will not be published for some considerable time, a short resume now may not be out of place, and may perhaps be of assistance to collectors of this difficult genus.

The genus was monographed in Das Pflanzenreich in 1903, by Ruhland, who separated and arranged the species according to the number of the parts in each whorl of the flower, to the geographical distribution (Old and New Worlds) and to minor characters of various kinds. Taking only the species which occur in India it appears to me that they fall naturally into eight groups, or sub-genera, in each of which a tendency to reduction of the floral parts continually shows itself, so that Ruhland's arrangement according to the number of the parts and the perfection of the flower cuts across the natural groupings. The arrangement in the Flora of British India follows in some respects more natural lines, but too much stress is laid in most of the descriptions on unimportant characters, and the possession by some species of white or yellow anthers, instead of the more usual black, is altogether ignored.

The least modified species appear to be glabrous plants with short discoid stem, narrow leaves, and peduncles bearing heads of male and female flowers, each subtended by a black slightly hairy floral bract ; and having in the male three sepals combined into a spathe-like calyx split on the upper side, a funnel-shaped corolla with three equal lobes and six stamens with black anthers ; and in the female three equal, boat-shaped sepals, three equal oblanceolate ciliate petals, a superior ovary with three one-seeded lobe3, and a three-fid style. From this fairly primitive type development appears to have proceeded along several different lines to produce groups of species as follows : —

I. SIMPLICES. Land or water-plants with the characters given above. Some of the species have (a) glabrous, some {b) villous recep-