Comprehensive and up to date botanical survey of Merveille and its surrounding area, Pondicherry

The Sri Aurobindo Trust sponsored a comprehensive study into the botanical survey of Merveille and its surrounding area, Pondicherry.

Main Goal
The present study meets two objectives:

  1. Identifying the plant species, preparing and publishing a photographic flora
  2. Distribution map of endemic and RET species found in Merveille, extending to the
    Pondicherry Bio-region.

 As a result of this proposed project the data collected will be part of research which
will enable to Ms. Uma Maheswari to work for PhD.
 Two to three research articles will be published in peer reviewed national or
international journals
 At least two presentations will be made in national / international seminar or
 Publication of a book: “Plants of Merveille”
 Database of plant species for the Puducherry region and a separate list for Merve too.

Work done in 1st year (February 2019 to January 2020)
 Check list of plants in Pondicherry: compiled and prepared the preliminary list of all
four habits viz. herbs, shrubs, trees and climbers about 1450 for entire Puducherry
(Merve included).
 Bibliography: it is one of the important component researches, in due extensive
literature collections were made; a table was prepared and it included title of the
article, name of the author(s), year of publication, information about the journal, page
numbers and this process is still ongoing.
 Collection of voucher samples: about 180 species of plants were collected from Merve
with reproductive features, processed into herbarium sheets and they deposited at
Herbarium, French Institute of Pondicherry for future references.

 Outcome:
• “Glimpses of Merveille”: a booklet was prepared in different themes and
presented as a gift on 1st August, 40th anniversary day to MERVE (Annexure 1).
•Abstract: was presented in a national conference and bagged third prize and best
presentation award (Annexure 2).Work done in 2nd year (February 2020 to January 2021)
 Out of 7 communes in Pondicherry due to the lockdown it was possible to complete
only 3.
 Compiled 860 woody species as a working list of Pondicherry environs for recording,
collecting and photographing however to till date a total of 780 plants are
 A total of 300 samples were collected and prepared into herbarium sheets.
 All important key characters were photographed to around 600 species and the
remaining were partially done with the new camera purchased in April 2019 with the
support of SAT_UK (Annexure 3a camera photo attached)
 All the informations (literatures, database of plant list from different studies and
phenology data) and photos were documented by using the laptop that was purchased
during March 2019 with the support of SAT_UK (Annexure 3b laptop photo
 Phenology (flowering and fruiting) data collections have been on-going in all the
woody species of Merve and 30 selected species from natural, roadside and manmade
forest to know the environmental (at microhabitat level) changes, if any.
 The plant list was increased from 1450 to 1600 including native and exotic species of Merve and Pondicherry.
 Initiated to group the plants and their images based on flower colours for the
preparation of the “Flowers of Merve – a field guide” (Annexure 4) to make the plant
identification easier for younger generation rather than the classical system with
number of Greek / Latininized glossaries.
 Started GPS marking of rare, endemic and threatened (RET) plants of Merve in order
to prepare the eco-distribution map and this work is still continuing.
 Miss. Umamaheswari successfully completed her pre-PhD examination conducted by
Pondicherry University and scored more than 80% of marks.

 In the second year around six months of field work was got distressed by COVID-19
so as the third year was tightly scheduled for field work as well as writing the ‘Thesis’
followed by the preparation of field guide.