BIODIVERSITY OF INDIAN DESERT Amit Kotia and Ashwani Kumar Biotechnology Lab, Department of Botany University of Rajasthan, Jaipur – 302004 INDIA ABSTRACT The state of Rajasthan is situated between 23º3’ and 30º12’ N latitude and 69º30’ and 78º17’ E longitude . The total land area of the state is about 3,24,239 km² , out of which about 1,98,100 km² is arid and rest is semi arid. The physical features are characterized mainly by the Aravallis and to the some extent by the vindhyan formation, and the Deccan trap. A major portion of western Rajasthan has desert soils and sandy plain. Sand dunes occupy a greater part of western Rajasthan ( 1,20, 983 km²). The soils of the desert plains are loamy sand to loam and eastern part has alluvial soil which support good forests and agricultural crop. Occurrence of saline soils with pH up to 9.0 is a common feature in sandy area of Rajasthan. The average annual rainfall in the state is 525-675 mm, and the annual precipitation in different tract of Rajasthan varies from 13 mm to 1766 mm. Out of the total area , forests, cover only about 37,638 km² , and are rich in biodiversity. Rajasthan is rich in biodiversity which has great economic value. Characterization of different plant species of economic value was undertaken (Table, 1-6). INTRODUCTION Out of the total land area of Rajasthan , forest covers only about 37,638 Km² i.e. 11%, this forest includes roughly 7% of depleted and denuded forests. Biodiversity of Rajasthan is related with the Aravalli hills. Anogeissus pendula Edgew. forests cover more than half of the total forest area in the state. These forests occur on a variety of rock formations on the Aravalli hills. A. pendula Edgew. is also found in the southern region of Vindhyan formations. It is able to grow on stony, impoverished and shallow soils, and also on a range of sandy loams to clay loam. A. pendula Edgew forms pure stands. It is commonly associated with Diospyros melanoxylon Roxb., Acacia leucophloea Willd., Bauhinia racemosa Lam. And Wrightia tinctoria R. Br. In parts of Jaipur, Ajmer and Jodhpur districts. Acacia Senegal Willd. is common. On the upper slopes , the main species are replaced by Sterculia urens Roxb., Boswellia serrata Roxb. And Lannea coromandelica (Houtt.) Herrill. and along the foothills by Butea monosperma (Lam.) Taub. The other species found are Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wt. & Arn., Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Del., Maytens emerginata (Willd.) D. Hou, Rhus mysurensis Heyne, Securinga leucopyrus (Willd.) Muell. Arg., Grewia flavescens Jurs., G. tenas (Forsk.) Fiori and Lycium barbarum Linn. ( Roy & Kumar , 1987). Acacia catechu Willd. forests are common in the south-eastern regions. e.g. Baran, Jhalawar, Kota, Tonk , Chittorgarh and Alwar. The area under this type is roughly 3% of the total forest area. (Roy & Kumar , 1995; Kumar & Roy 1996.) The Rajasthan desert has extensive areas of saline soil which can be effectively utilized for biomass production. Notable among the species, including halopytes, which can be raised in this area include Tamarix troupii Hole, Acacia nilotica (L.) Del., Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br., Capparis deciduas (Forsk.) Edgew, Salvadora oleoides Decne., Prosopis chilensis (Molina) Stuntz. These can be raised on soils with lower levels of salinity. Some of the grasses which can be grown are Aeluropus logopoides (L.) Trin. ex Thw., Dactyloctenium aegyptium (L.) P. Beauv., Eleusine compressa (Forsk.) Ascheros. and Schweing and Eragrostis ciliaris (L.) R.Br. (Kumar , 1987.) The vast sandy tract which are distributed in the Western and Northern plains of the state, forms the dunes and the plain. The dunes are of two type - the embryonic, and the stabilized ones. There is no vegetation on the embryonic dunes except some ephemerals like Gisekia pharnaceoides, Euphorbia prostrata, Mollugo cerviana, Polycarpaea corymbosa and others which are the pioneers. When the embryonic dunes are gradually stabilized due to the growth of sand binders like Leptadenia pyrotechnica, Calotropis procera, Aerva tomentosa, Saccharam munja, and others , they provide suitable habitat for the growth of some annual grasses e.g. species of Eragostis, Aristida, etc., Plant speices like Convolvulus, Heliotropium, Indigofera, Tephrosia, Polygala, and perennials like Echinops echinatus, Crotalaria medicagenia , and Shrub like Acacia jacqumontii. Besides this Trianthema, Chenopodium, Salsola, Suaeda plants are very common in saline regions of Rajasthan. MATERIAL AND METHODS : The plant species were collected from different site of state like Ajmer, Churu, Jhunjhunu, Dausa, Sikar, and mainly Jaipur district. Identification of these plant species was done using standard monograph and their local flora ( Sharma , 1976; Bhandari, 1978). The survey of these sites was carried out over a period of two years (1999-2000). The plant specimens have been deposited in the herbarium of Botany Department, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. OBSERVATION : The following plant species have been recorded from different area of the state in different season. This plant biodiversity have lots of economic value. Some of the plants are listed in the following table. They include different categories like, plants yielding Fibers, Tannins, Dyes, Gum and Resins, Extraction & Distillation products, plants for lac worm hosts, Plant for Silkworm hosts, Biri leaves, Soap Substitutes etc. A. Trees: Acacia leucophloea (Roxb.) Willd. ; Acacia nilotica (Linn.) Willd. ex Del. ; Acacia senegal (Linn.) Willd. ; Acacia tortilis (Forsk.) Hayne.(Figure 1); Azadirachta indica A. Juss.; Ailanthus excelsa Roxb.; Balanites aegyptiaca (Linn.) Delile.; Dichrostachys cinerea (Linn.) Wight. et Arn.; Ficus benghalensis Linn.; Ficus religiosa Linn.; Holoptelea integrifolia Planch.; Prosopis cineraria (Linn.) Druce.; Prosopis juliflora (Swartz.) DC. ; Tecomella undulata (Sm.) Seeman..; Ziziphus mauritiana Lamk.; Maytenus emarginata (Willd.) Ding-Hou. Phoenix sylvestris (Linn.) Roxb.; Riccinus communis Linn.; Terminalia alata Heyne ; Terminalia arjuna (Roxb.) Wight. & Ara.; Cassia fistula Linn.; Cassia auriculata Linn; . Tamarix aphylla (L.) Karst.; Pithecellobium dulce Benth.; Acacia catechu Willd.; Zizyphus glaberrima Santapau.; Terminalia bellirica Roxb.; Emblica officinalis Gaertn.; Anogeissus pendula Edgew.; Anogeissus latifolia Wall.; Prosopis cineraria (L.) Druce.; Garuga pinnata Roxb.; Madhuca indica Gmel.; Pongamia pinnata (L.) Pierre.; Salvadora oleoides Decne.; Salvadora persica Linn.; Jatropha curcas Linn.; Balanites aegyptiaca (L.) Delile.; Sapindus emarginatus Vahl.; Mimusops elengi Linn.; Aegle marmelos (L.) Correa.; Bauhinia racemosa Lamk.; Boswellia serrata Roxb.; Bombax ceiba Linn.; Buchnania latifolia Roxb.; Butea monosperma (Lamk.) Taub.; Leucaena leucocephala (Lam.) de Wit.; Lannea coromandelica (Houtt.) Merril.; Moringa oleifera Lam.; Mangifera indica Linn.; Miliusa tomentosa (Roxb.) J. Sinclair; Pterocarpus marsupium Roxb.; Sterculia urens Roxb.; Nyctanthes arbortristis Linn.; Wrightia tinctoria R.Br.; Morinda tinctoria Roxb.; Helicteres isora Linn.; Cordia gharf (Farsk.) Her. & Asch.; Erythrina suberosa Roxb.; Phoenix sylvestre Roxb.; Cordia oblique Willd. Ficus religiosa Linn.; Morus alba Linn.; Diospryos melanoxylon Roxb.; Diospryos tomentosa Roxb.; Diospryos montana Roxb.; Santalum album Linn. B. Shrubs: Carissa carandas Linn; Punica granatum Linn.; Lawsonia inermis Linn.;Rhus mysurensis Heyne.; Mallotus philiphinensis Muell. – Arg.; Capparis deciduas (Forsk.) Edgew.; Abutilon indicum (Linn.) Sweet.; Sida cordifolia Linn. ; Waltheria indica Linn.; Commiphara wightii (Arn.) Bhandari.; Hibiscus ovalifolius Vahl.; Ziziphus nummularia (Burm.f.) Arn.; Acacia jacqumontii Benth.; Crotalaria burhia Buch.-Ham. ex Benth.; Grewia tenax (Forsk.) Fiori.; Crotalaria medicaginia Lamk.; Verbesina encelioides (Cav.) Benth. & Hook.; Xanthium strumarium Linn.; Calotropis procera (Ait.) R.Br.; Leptadenia pyrotechnica (Forsk.) Decne.; Sericostoma pauciflorum Stocks.; Withania somnifera (Linn.) Dunal.; Lantana indica Roxb.; Aerva tomentosa (Burm. f.) Juss.; Salsola baryosoma ( S.) Dandy.; Suaeda maritima (Linn.) Dumort. C. Perennial herbs : Tephrosia hamiltonii Drumm.; Tephrosia purpurea (Linn.) Pers.; Farsetia hamiltonii Royle.; Indigofera linnaei Ali.; Trianthema portulacastrum Linn.; Zaleya govindia (Buch-Ham. ex G. Don) N.C. Nair.; Borreria articularis (Linn.) F.N. Will..; Echinops echinatus Roxb.; Launaea resedifolia (Linn.) Druce.; Launaea procumbens (Roxb.) Rammyya et Rajgopal.; Oligochaeta ramose (Roxb.) Wagenitz.; Pulicaria crispa Sch.-Bip.; Catharanthus roseus (Linn.) Don.; Convolvulus microphyllous Sieb. ex Spreng.; Datura metal Linn. ; Solanum nigrum Linn.; Solanum surattense Burm.; Lepidagathis trinervis Wall. ex Nees.(Figure, 2); Boerhavia diffusa Linn.; Achyranthes aspera Linn.; Amaranthus caudatus Linn.; Pupalia lappacea (Linn.) Juss.; Croton bonplandianum Baill.; Euphorbia hirta Linn. D. Annual herbs : Argemone mexicana Linn.; Fumaria indica (Haussk.) Pugsley.; Sismbrium irio Linn.; Portulaca oleracea Linn.; Portulaca suffruticosa Wt.; Alysicarpus monilifer DC.; Medicago laciniata (Linn.) Mill., Melilotus indica All.; Fagonia cretica Linn.; Trigonella. polycerata Linn.; Trianthema triquetra Rottl. ex Willd.; Acanthospermum hispidum DC. (Figure 4); Artemisia scoparia Waldst et Kit.; Gnaphalium indicum Linn.; Pulicaria angustifolia DC.; Sonchus asper (Linn.) Gars.; Vernonia cinerea (Linn.) Less.; Anagallis arvensis Linn.; Arnebia hispidissima (Lehm.) DC.; Heliotropium ellipticum Ledeb. (Figure 3); Heliotropium marifolium Retz.; Heliotropium subulatum Hochst. ex DC.; Datura innoxia Mill.; Leucas aspera (Willd.) Spreng.; Gomphrena celosiodies Mart.; Indigofera cordifolia Heyne.; Indigofera hochstetteri Baker.; Tephrosia strigosa (Dalz.) Sant.; Ocimum canum Sims.; Chenopodium album Linn.; Chenopodium murale Linn.; Phyllanthus asperulatus Hutch. E. Ephemerals : Cleome gynandra Linn.; Cleome viscose Linn.; Polygala erioptera DC.; Polygala irregularis Boiss.; Indigofera astragalina DC.; Polycarpaea corymbosa (Linn.) Lamk.; Sida ovata Forst.; Corchorus tridens Linn.; Triumfetta pentandra A.Rich.; Tribulus terrestris Linn.; Cassia tora Linn. (Figure 6); Cassia occidentalis Linn.; Alysicarpus vaginalis ( Linn.) DC.; Indigofera linifolia (Linn.) Retz.; Indigofera sessiliflora DC.; Gisekia pharnaceoides Linn.; Mollugo cerviana (Linn.) Ser. (Figure 7); Mollugo nudicaulis Lamk.; Bidens biternata (Lour.) Merr. & Sherff.; Blainvillea acmella (Linn.) Philipson.; Trichodesma indicum R.Br.; Evolvulus alsinoides Linn.; Physalis minima Linn.; Pedalium murex Linn.; Sesamum indicum Linn.; Martynia annua Linn.; Peristrophe bicalyculata (Retz.) Nees.; Rostellularia procumbens (Linn.) Ness.; Anisomeles indica (Linn.) Ktze. (Figure 5); Amaranthus spinosus Linn.; Digera muricata (Linn.) Mart.; Euphorbia prostrata Ait.; Commelina benghalensis Linn.; Commelina forskalaei Vahl.