India’s Western Ghats are one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. The region is specially rich in endemic fauna and flora. This region is also known for a few spots in India where freshwater swamps are found. The freshwater swamps are reported in India from the Siwalik and Doon Valley and the Brahmaputra Valley, apart from the Western Ghats.
Myristica swamps are known with this name because; they are dominated by members of Myristicaceae. A primitive family of flowering plants, Myristicaceae has 18 genera and 300 species. One of the well known species is the nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, a native of Mollucas Island, and cultivated widely in the gardens of the Western Ghats.
The Myristica swamps are tropical fresh water swamp forests with an abundance of Myristica trees, the most primitive of the flowering plants on earth. The evergreen, water-tolerant trees have dense stilt roots helping them stay erect in the thick, black, wet alluvial soil. The swamps are typically found in valleys, making them prone to inundation during monsoon rains. The trees form a fairly dense forest with a closed canopy. Studies have shown that the swamps, which would have occupied large swathes of the thickly- wooded Western Ghats in the past, are now restricted to less than 200 hectares in the country.
Myristica swamps in News
As per news published in The Hindu on 10 June 2012, the Myristica swamps, a vanishing ecosystem, is now largely confined to 53 patches in the Kulathupuzha and Anchal forest ranges and the Shendurney wildlife sanctuary in Kerala. A study by the ARI scientists, published recently in the journal, Quaternary International, describes the discovery of plant fossils of the ancient Myristica swamps from the Konkan coast.