Situated along the Western Ghats, one of the biodiversity hotspots in India, the state of Kerala is endowed with a luxuriant vegetation rich in species. It is estimated that there are about 4,000 species of flowering plants in the Western Ghats and 3,800 of them occur in Kerala. Most of the trees occur in the forests and a few indigenous species are confined to coastal vegetation.
Identification of trees at sight is required by foresters, field biologists and timber traders. Identification by referring conventional floras is not always practical, especially with non-botanists. It is also not easy to remember the scientific names of the plants. Often in the field of forestry and timber trade, plants are referred to by the local names. Considering the importance of local names. Lushington (1915); Nair & Nair (1970) and Sasidharan (1987) have compiled the local names of plants and equated with their scientific names. Sasidharan (1987) brought out a checklist of 600 indigenous tree species and 100 exotics in Kerala. Since then a few more tree species have been recorded from Kerala (Sasidharan. 2006). In the present checklist, indigenous and exotic tree species with more local names have been included.
In the past several exotic trees of forestry and horticultural importance have been introduced in the State. These trees are listed out separately under "exotic trees". As local names are preferred to scientific names in the field of forestry and timber trade, an attempt has been made to compile local names from every possible source. Local names of species often vary from place to place. Sometimes more than one species may be known by the same local name. Only commercially important species have consistent local names. For several species, especially those in the evergreen and shola forests have no local names. Only a few of them are known by the names that are used by the tribals. Trees in the forests bordering Tamil Nadu are better known by tamil local names.
The text is organised : 1) so as to simplify the effort of reference, and 2) in accordance with the rules of plant nomenclature.