With the completion of the fourth and final volume, the project to bring out a comprehensive taxonomic account of the angiosperm flora of Tirunelveli Hills, the Eastern slopes of Agathimalai, and the Southernmost part of the Western Ghats with a potential for declaration as a biosphere reserve has reached its conclusion.
Owing to their significant geographic position at the southern end of the Western Ghats and varied climate and altitude, the Tirunelveli Hills possess a very rich and diverse flora. A reliable, up-to-date floristic inventory is a pre-requisite for a just assessment of the plant wealth of a given area, more so in a tropical country like India, where population pressure continues to lead to overexploitation and the consequent disappearance of precious forests. Since tropical rainforest has entered a period of rapid decline as a world natural resource, the Tirunelveli Hills must be regarded as a prime example of this ecosystem in Southern India.
The flora incorporates details of geology, vegetational types, distribution, climatology, taxonomic accounts, endangered, vulnerable, and endemic species, and species of medicinal and economic importance. The unique feature of this flora is the preparation of taxonomically useful line drawings for nearly all the species. Much attention is paid to the taxonomic accuracy of all drawings, which will enable students and scientists to identify taxa not only of the Tirunelveli Hills but also of other areas of Southern India.
The production of the Flora of Tirunelveli Hills is a significant milestone in the history of South Indian Botany and will be of use to scholars, bioscientists, environmentalists, conservationists and particularly taxonomists. It is hoped that this work will be of real service to students and teachers of biology and to other local practical plant users in better understanding and utilising the rich biodiversity of the area, leading to rural development.