Subject Areas: Plant Science
Biodiversity is the total variety of life on earth. It includes all genes, species and ecosystems. In short it reflects the totality of genus, species and ecosystems in a region  . The studies of biodiversity have now assumed greater significance as ecologists try seriously to document global biodiversity in the face of unprecedented perturbation, habit loss and extinction rates  . Floristic inventory and diversity status help us understand the species composition and diversity status of forests  .
A flora is an inventory of the plants of a defined biogeographically region. The floristic studies are considered as the backbone of the assessment of phytodiversity, conservation management and sustainable utilization of bioresearches of a region. They are helpful in providing clues of changing floristic pattern, new invasions, current status, rare, endemic and threatened (RET) taxa in a phytogeographical area.
A through taxonomic study of the flora and forest is essential to understand and assess the richness of their biodiversity  . Moreover, quantitative inventories help to identify species that are in different stages of vulnerability  as well as the various factors that influence the existing vegetation in any region  . Moreover in any resources management programs, continuous updating of data about any vegetation, flora and economically relevant plants of the region is an important component of bio-prospecting tools.
Several studies have been conducted to analyze the floristic composition of the wall habitats in India and abroad. In recent years some research workers have been carried out on the flora of Erode district  -  . None of the above studies give a detailed account on the floral diversity of vedhagiri hills in Bhavani, Erode district. The study area, Veddhagiri hills, has rich a diverse ecological community performing a variety of functions. This diversity has been modified at times and has tried to sustain itself in changing circumstances. Keeping the above points in mind, the present survey was undertaken to provide an account of the floristic diversity in Veghagiri hills of Erode District Tamil Nadu.
2. Materials and Methods
The present investigation was undertaken to study the floristic diversity of the Vedhagiri hills of Bhavani in Erode district. Several field trips were made from September 2013 to March 2014, covering different seasons, in order to know the phenology of the plants. The collected specimens were identified taxonomically with the help of available monographs, taxonomic revisions and floras  -  and by using field keys.
The specimen was them poisoned in a saturated solution of mercuric chloride in alcohol. Further processes pressing, mounting and labeling were done following the instruction given by  . The voucher specimens were deposited in the Herbarium of Department of Botany, Bharathiar University (BUH), Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. Further, the local peoples were contacted to get the information about the economic utility of the collected plant species (Table 1).
3. Study Area
The study area Vedhagiri hills, Bhavani is situated about 21 Km from Erode town and is a continuation of the Western Ghats lying North to Palghat Gap and to the south-east of the Nilgris. The area comes under the Vedhagiri hills, Bhavani of Erode division which includes the villages namely Kurupanayakanpalayam and Anthiyur. It lies between 11˚28'N and 38˚94'N latitude and 77˚4'E and 27.06˚E longitude.
In this area soil is found to be rather sandy, stony and of the gravel type.
In general it can be classified into two main groups (black and red soils). The climate in general is dry and characterised by insufficient rainfall. During February and March the climate is usually oppressive especially along river Cauvery. In April the weather gets hotter and humidity is at its maximum. The average maximum and minimum temperature is 96˚C and 80˚C. The temperature gradually increases from 85˚C in January to 96˚C in May and reduces gradually to 80˚C in December. Total rainfall is over 100 mm in a year. When monsoon breaks maximum rainfall reaches 30 mm during South West Monsoon in October (Figure 1).
4.1. Floristic Study
The present study was undertaken to enumerate the floristic composition of Veddhagiri hills, the Southern
Table 1. List of plants economic utility of the present study.
Figure 1. Study area map.
Western Ghats of Erode district, it becomes essential to analyses the diversity statically to find out the distribution of plants species in various families. A total number of 135-species under 40-families with 103-genera were collected from the Angiosperms (Table 2). Among the Angiosperms, Dicotyledons comprises 120-species under 69-genera and 36-families and the Monocotyledons comprises 15-species belonging to 14-genera and 4-families (Table 3). Out of 120-Dicotyledons, 44-species were belongs to Polypetalae followed by 48-species of Gamopetalae and 28-species of Monochlamydeae.
An analysis were made to find out the dominant families are Euphorbiaceae is the most dominant famlily with 13-species, followed by Amaranthaceae and Poaceae with 11-species each, Mimosaceae with 8-species, Caesalpinaceae, Convolvulaceae and Acanthaceae with 7-species each and Asteraceae with 6-species (Figure 2). On the basis of the habit, the plants have been grouped into trees, shrubs, herbs and climbers. Herbs are more dominated with 50 species, followed by Shrub 31 species, Climber 18 species, Tree 24 species and Grasses 12 species (Figure 3).
4.2. Ethno-Botanical Uses
The importance of conservation and utilization of plant resources in natural environment has long been recognized. Since the very beginning of human civilization, human have always been dependent on plant wealth for their major needs. About 90% of the ailments of ancient aborigines, tribes and local people are being cured by the plant resources  . Some of the plants were used by rural people in many different ways in the study area, The principle uses were medicinal, cultural/religious, food, timber and other household purposes. Through most of the plants are useful to mention in one way or other.
Local inhabitants living in villages, particularly in forest areas use a number of wild plants and their parts for curing various diseases. The following species are medicinally important whose curative properties have been well established, of these, 41 plant species were used for medicinal purposes to cure various disorders which ranged from diabetes, ear infections, antiseptics, joint pains, digestive problems and snake bites. Some medicinal plants are Cocculus hirsutus L., Abutilon indicum (L.), Tribulus terrestris L., Azadirachta indica L., Cissus quadrangularis L., Cardiospermum helicacabum (L)., Coccinia grandis (L.), Calotropis gigantea (L.), Pedalium murex L., Ocimum americanum L., etc.
4.3. Edible Fruit Yielding Plants
A number of plants provide fruits and other parts, which are eaten raw, cooked or pickled viz., Zizyphus jujuba Lam., Tamarindus indica L., Solanum xanthocarpum Schrader & Wendl., Coccinia grandis (L)., Solanum nigrum (L.) etc.
4.4. Wild Relatives of Cultivated Plants
The wild plants occurring naturally in the forests have several desirable characters such as resistance to diseases
Table 2. List of plants present in the study area.
Table 3. Numerical data from the present study area.
Figure 2. Dominant families from the study.
Figure 3. Life form analysis from the study.
and pests, drought tolerant, high yield etc. These characters can be used in plant breeding. Some of the wild plants collected during investigation are Mangifera indica L., Ocimum americanum L., Ocimum basilicum L., Tectona grandis L., Solanum nigrum (L.).
4.5. Ornamental Potential Species
Ornamental plants can be developed as a cottage industry in Erode district particularly act as several places in general along the Western Ghats. House wives, farmers and entrepreneurs could be engaged to develop horticulture as available commercial activity. In this aspect, the following species can be utilized. Hibiscus vitifolius L., Cassia auriculata L., Wrightia tinctoria (Roxb.), Millingtonia hortensis L., Tecoma stans L., Barleria cristata L., Barleria cuspidata (L.), Aerva lanata (L.) etc.
Hence, proper documentation and preservation of traditional skills and technology of medicinal plants is a vital necessity. Further investigation on pharmacological importance of these plants and their diversity may add new knowledge to the traditional medicinal and cultural system.
During the last few decades there has been an increasing interest in the study of medicinal plants and their traditional use in different parts of India and there are some reports on the use of plants in traditional healing by either tribal people or indigenous communities of Erode district. The Irula tribes of Hasanur Hill of the Erode District used 70 wild valuable plant species used and utilization by the local tribal people for different human ailments. The common diseases treated by the herbal practitioner were asthma, digestive problems, paralyzes, skin diseases and diabetes  . Hooralis Tribes in Kadambur Hills (Kalkadmbur), used that 68 species to be used to cure skin diseases, poison bites, stomachache, cough, cold and diabetes, the indigenous knowledge of medicinal plants has great potential for research and the discover of new drugs  .
50 popular medicinal plants frequently used by the local villagers for minor ailments such as boils, cuts, wounds, diarrhoea, head-ache, jaundice, skin infection and general debility  . The traditional healers used 93 species were used to treat various diseases. The documented medicinal plants were used to cure different ailments such as skin problems, cold, fever, cough, headache, diarrhea, fertility problems, toothache, stomach ache, wounds, diabetes, rheumatism, asthma, dysentery, small pox, bone fractures, ear ache, hair loss and poison (snake, scorpion and insect) bites etc., and showed that the tribes and villagers still continue to depend on medicinal plants  .
In the present was the first attempt Floristic Diversity and Ethno botanical Uses of Vedhagiri Hills in Bhavani, Erode District. Documenting the patterns of species diversity and their distribution creates a valuable database, useful for implementing better management and conservation of tropical forests. Presently, many forest sites of Eastern Ghats are subjected to various anthropogenic pressures. Data of plant diversity, such as presented in the current study on trees and shrubs will be useful in highlighting the importance of these forests for species conservation and forest management.
The result of the present study revealed the knowledge about the edibility; the preservation of this knowledge appears to be the result of continued reliance of local communities, medicinal and edible plants. The medicinal plants used by the rural people to cure different diseases also reveal that many wild species are under growing pressures from various anthropogenic factors. The natural health care system is getting a great attention these days. Therefore, documentation of information on indigenous knowledge and practices will help in conserving the knowledge.
We are thankful to Professor and Head Department of Botany, Bharathiar University for providing the necessary facilities.
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