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Listing plant diversity of the Karimbam farm

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Staff Reporter

The handbook gives the reader a feel of the range of plant species in the farm and its history

Kannur: The multiplicity of different plant varieties at the District Agricultural Farm at Karimbam in Kannur is sufficient to draw the attention of botanists. Its history is only an added attraction that gives it a special ambience.

The biodiversity of the farm, which is now maintained by the District Panchayat, hardly requires any further testimony than the fact that it has been retained as a biodiversity-rich area for a century.

The handbook `Plant Diversity of Karimbam Biodiversity Centre' published by the District Panchayat gives the reader a feel of the range of plant species in the farm and its history.

The handbook gives details with photos of 111 species of plants found in the farm. As the authors - K.M. Khaleel who is Reader at the Department of PG Studies and Research Centre in Botany at Sir Syed College, Taliparamba, and P. Sujanapal, research scholar at Kerala Forest Research Institute - say, the book may be helpful for all categories of people, from laymen to research scholars as well as to students of botany.

The details in the book include botanical, common and Malayalam names of the species and a brief description of plants with properties, their medicinal and other uses.

The handbook is published to mark the centenary celebration of the farm.

The Biodiversity Park in the farm has been re-christened Karimbam Biodiversity Centre to commemorate an English Botanist who has made it what it is.

Sir Charles Alfred Barber, a Government botanist and taxonomist under the British Raj stayed at Karimbam as part of his assignment to make a comprehensive study of plants for the preparation of a kind of registry titled `Flora of the Madras Presidency'

Established in 1905, the farm is one of the oldest farms in the country. According to Dr. Khaleel and Mr. Sujanapal, it was selected for the systematic study of the plant diversity of the Western Ghats by Dr. Barber who was attracted to the rich diversity of flora and fauna in the farm.

Dr. Barber, a South African by birth, started his work here after he was appointed the Director of the Botanical Survey of India.

The bungalow built in the farm in 1906 for the studies is still known as Barber Bungalow though it is now being used as the farm rest house and preserved as a historical monument.

The farm has evolved into the Agricultural Research Station and District Agricultural Farm under Kerala Agricultural University/ Department of Agriculture before it was handed over to the District Panchayat.

The importance of the farm could not have been greater as 64 rare mango selections collected from different parts of the country have been planted in the farm since 1938. The farm also supplies quality planting materials to farmers in the neighbouring districts.

The plant species in the farm include trees, different species of shrubs, woody climbers, large palms and herbs, among others.

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