No up-to-date descriptive flora for Punjab incorporating all the vascular plants has ever been written since the year 1838 when Edgeworth for the first time touched the study of botany in Punjab. The present 3-volume set is fundamentally based on plant explorations and field studies in the area, and laboratory and herbarium investigations for over half a century by the author. It is an attempt to bring all the available floristic information regarding the vascular plants of Punjab state and Union Territory of Chandigarh (joint capital of Punjab and Haryana states) in one place and consolidate it in the form of a comprehensive flora. The book comprises 2414 taxa (2370 species + 44 infraspecific taxa with wild and naturalized plants represented by 1340 species and 34 infraspecific taxa) belonging to 1123 genera and 200 families.
Punjab and Chandigarh are essentially a part of the semi-arid zone of the country, through northwards the tract becomes more humid and supports relatively luxuriant vegetation especially towards (including Chandigarh) and in Shivalik hills which continue with the hilly states of Himachal Pradesh and partly Jammu and Kashmir.
The primary objectives of the book are to give a factual and exhaustive current status of the existing vegetation; identify the vascular plants (wild and cultivated) with the help of analytical keys, concise descriptions of various taxa, and detailed illustrations and photographs of selected representatives; besides bringing the nomenclature of taxa up-to-date. Incorporation of recorded chromosome numbers, Latin abbreviations, and their meaning, and index of all authors’ of plant names with standard abbreviations are an additional attraction of the work.
Indented keys have been provided to facilitate the easy determination of the taxa. These are based on macroscopic characters of actually collected and /or examined specimens along with field observations. An earnest attempt has been made for the adjustment of variations observed. Nomenclature has been updated in accordance with the provisions of “International Code of Nomenclature” - ICN (Turland et al. 2018) and the plant names were checked for updated nomenclature. For easy reference, the genera under family and species under genera are numbered and arranged alphabetically.
A short description of each family has been provided along with a total number of genera/species in the world and India. This is followed by a concise generic description. For these taxa, a mention has been made of the number of their components in the world and India. The citation for species and infraspecific taxa gives the currently accepted name with basionym if any. Synonymy is a bare minimum and mainly restricted to Indian works. For convenient confirmation of the identity of species, a conscientious attempt has been made to cite at least one reference, if available, that includes illustration or photograph. This is followed by Vernacular and English names whenever available. The description of species and taxa included under these are based on the specimens cited with the individual taxon, frequently supplemented with field observations. To make the identification unambiguous; in many cases, phenotypic variations in the populations, nomenclatural notes, comparison with some closely related taxa, or any other noteworthy point of interest may ensue. This is followed, in a separate paragraph, by the information pertaining to the frequency of occurrence of the taxon in the area and associated with the type of special habitat (if any), flowering and fruiting period(s), the localities from where the specimens have been actually collected, collector’s name with field numbers, distribution of the species in the world as well as India and Chromosome numbers wherever known. Ethnobotanical notes constitute the concluding part of the treatment of individual species.
Cultivated species have been kept separate from wild and naturalized ones and treated at the end of the pertinent family without compromising the technical details. However, as a space-conserving measure, keys for the segregation of species have been devised in a different manner. Instead of dividing the taxa first into genera and subsequently into species under each genus, all the included species under the family have been accommodated in a composite key in which the taxa are numbered (and subsequently dealt) according to their alphabetical generic-specific sequence. Description of species is brief, the emphasis being on discriminatory features in the key itself.
This book will be treasured by taxonomists, foresters, agriculture scientists, and conservation biologists and would be an effective reference book for understanding the plants growing in the Punjab region.