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Taxonomic Revision of the Genus Hedychium J. Koenig (Zingiberaceae) in India

Dr. E. Sanoj, University of Calicut, Kerala, India

Hedychiums are popularly called 'ginger lily' or 'butterfly lily', owing to the resemblance of its labellum and lateral staminodes with that of the wings of the butterflies. The taxonomy of the horticulturally important genus Hedychium has been controversial since the middle of the nineteenth century. The genus forms the most beautiful gingers of the family Zingiberaceae.

As a part of taxonomic revision of the genus, I could collect all the protologues and types of all Indian representatives. These protologues and type studies helped for the exact identity and solving the nomenclatural confusions of the taxa. Detailed taxonomic account of all taxa under the genus in India supported by detailed descriptions, illustrations, ecology, ethnobotanical notes, distribution, IUCN status etc. are prepared with the aid of live specimens. A dichotomous key to the taxa are provided for easy identification.

There are different opinions regarding the total number of Hedychium spp. in India. But the present studies revealed that some of the taxa described till date are conspecific or misidentification. During the present study it is identified that only 44 taxa, which includes 31 species and 13 varieties, occur in India. Among them, 19 taxa are endemic to India, with 2 south Indian representations. The genus is mainly distributed in Northeast and South India.

Extensive collection trips were made all over India, especially, NE India for the collection of live specimens. Many of them were turned out to be new to science or new to India or rediscovery after a gap of more than a century.

All Herbarium specimens prepared during this period are deposited in CALI. Now it holds 468 herbarium sheets of the genus under 42 taxa. A live germplasm of the genus with about 386 accessions under 40 taxa was established with CUBG, the largest in Asia. Spirit collections were also prepared and are kept with proper labelling for further studies.

Nomenclature of all Indian taxa was updated and typification process of some species without proper type specimens are in progress. Types for 18 taxa (14 Lectotypes, 3 Epitypes, 1 Neotype) were identified and their typification works are in progress. 5 status changes and 8 new synonyms were also proposed.

Majority of Indian taxa are under Critically Endangered (CR) category (24) followed by the Endangered (EN) category (8), Least Concern (LC) category (6), Vulnerable (VU) category (4) and Near Threatened (NT) category (4).


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