Curcuma pseudomontana 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Liliopsida Zingiberales Zingiberaceae

Scientific Name: Curcuma pseudomontana
Species Authority: J.Graham
Common Name(s):
English Hill Turmeric

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2009-05-21
Assessor(s): Romand-Monnier, F. & Contu, S.
Reviewer(s): Scott, J.A.
Curcuma pseudomontana is endemic to the Western and Eastern Ghats, of peninsular India. For the purpose of this assessment, C. pseudomontana is considered to occur in Karnataka, Kerala, and Andra Pradesh. This species was reported to be common and abundant in the Western Ghats in the 1950s, however, the population has shrunk due to alarming rates of habitat loss in the region and over-harvesting for the medical trade. The Western Ghats population is noted to have declined by more than 30% over 10 years, due to habitat loss and overcollection (Molur et al. 1997). The species has also been rated as Vulnerable in Ahdhra Pradesh (Eastern Ghats) (Jhadav et al. 2006) and also in the Western Ghats (Karnataka, Kerala) (Molur et al. 1997). Curcuma pseudomontana is therefore currently rated as Vulnerable based on criterion A.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species is endemic to the Western and Eastern Ghats, of peninsular India (Tyagi 2005). It is considered to occur in the states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh (Prakash and Screeeramulu 1985; Mangaly and Sabu 1987, 1993; Ram Rao et al. 2006). However, there are numerous botanical records of the taxon in the state of Maharashtra (Santapau 1953 a,b; Tiwari and Pradhye 1993; Tetali et al. 2004; Jagtap et al. 2006) and one report of occurrence in Madhya Pradesh (Oomachan 1996). For some authors the species is only distributed along the lower slopes of the Western Ghats (Mangaly and Sabu 1987). According to Mangaly and Sabu (1987) earlier descriptions of C. pseudomontana based on plants from Bombay and Khandala are partly incomplete and do not agree fully with those from Silent Valley in Kerala, the southern part of its distributional range. Collections from Maharashtra are therefore not included in the most recent treatment of this species (Mangaly and Sabu 1987), which this assessment is based on. The taxon has been little collected, although numerous botanical observations are reported (Mangaly and Sabu 1993).
Countries occurrence:
India (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala)
Additional data:
Lower elevation limit (metres):50
Upper elevation limit (metres):1000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:In 1953, this species was reported to be very common and abundant throughout the Western Ghats (Santapau 1953 a,b). There appears to have been a marked reduction in population size and Molur et al. (1997) estimate the reduction to be more than 30% over 10 years. It is reported to be occasional in all the districts of the Eastern Ghats (Ram Rao et al. 2006). The current size of the population is unknown.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial, which is found in usually moist shady places on the fringes of wet forests or grasslands, in riparian areas, at moderately high altitude along the western side of the Western Ghats (Mangaly and Sabu 1987). The taxon occurs both in moist deciduous forest and semi-evergreen forest (Molur et al. 1997). Mycorrhizal associations have been found (Deotare 2003). Curcuma is a taxonomically difficult genus and problematic for plant hunters, herbarium technicians as well as taxonomists (Mangaly and Sabu 1993). This taxon, originally described from the western Ghats, has a confused taxonomy as it closely resembles C. montana for the side corms. Curcuma pseudomontana and C. montana share many common floral and vegetative characters and occur in similar habitats. The inflorescence of C. pseudomontana is lateral in the early part of the rainy season and terminal later in the season. The colour of the coma is variable within the species (Mangaly and Sabu 1987). Molecular marker based genetic diversity analysis have not yet been conclusive on the legitimacy of both taxa as species. A close relook into the morpho-taxonomic traits of the two species is warranted before according a permanent separate status to them (Syamkumar and Sasikumar 2007).

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The genus Curcuma is gaining importance world over as a potential source of new drugs to combat a variety of ailments as the species contain molecules credited with anti-inflammatory, hypocholestraemic, choleratic, antimicrobial, insect repellent, antirheumatic, antifibrotic, antivenomous, antiviral, antidiabetic, antihepatotoxic as well as anticancerous properties (Sasikumar 2005). This species is used in arrowroot powder manufacturing and in local and tribal medicine (Sasikumar 2005, Ravindram et al. 2007). The roots are boiled and eaten and said to be beneficial against leprosy, dysentery, cardiac diseases and general debility (Tyagi 2005). The Savara tribes in the Eastern Ghats of Andhra Pradesh use tuber extracts to cure jaundice. Jatapu and Kaya tribes apply warm tuber paste to treat body swellings. Women of Jatapu and Savara tribes eat boiled tubers to increase lactation. Khand tribes apply tuber paste on the head for cooling effect. The Kukus-Mukus eat fresh tubers for blood purification (Jagtap et al. 2006). Warm tuber paste is applied on body swellings and leaves are used as meal plates (Rama Rao 2006). This species is also eaten as food during famines.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The main threats to this species come from habitat loss and overcollection. Forest in the region have been largely removed or altered due to felling, clearing and extensive cultivation (tea and coffee plantation), mining, hydro-electric development and an important decline in biodiversity has been observed. The existing forests (ca 7 % of the original cover) are highly fragmented and facing the prospect of increasing degradation. Additional threats to the natural habitats include invasion of exotic species, fires and unrestricted use of agrochemicals near forests (Bawa 2007). Curcuma pseudomontana is used in arrowroot powder manufacturing and in local and tribal medicine (Sasikumar 2005, Ravindram et al. 2007). The taxon is commercially traded as a medicinal plant (Molur et al. 1997). Exploitation of commercially traded medicinal plants for economic gain without any thoughts of their conservation has driven many species close to extinction in the region (Molur et al. 1997, Bawa 2007).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species has been collected within a conservation area, however most records fall outside such areas (also protected areas do not always adequately protect the resident taxa from illegal collections). The taxon is grown in various botanical institutions. The taxon is rated as Vulnerable both in the Eastern and Western Ghats (Molur et al. 1997, Jhadav et al. 2006). In the Western Ghats, a population reduction of over 30% in 10 years was inferred in 1997 (Molur et al. 1997). Taxonomic studies are needed for this species and the current geographic range and population size should be clarified. The resilience of the taxon to anthropogenic disturbance should be investigated as well as other aspects of its biology and ecology. The population of this formerly abundant species has shrunk and samples of seed should be collected as an ex situ conservation measure in order to ensure a wide genetic diversity to use for conservation programmes. An ex situ population which preserves 90% of the genetic diversity of a population for 100 years should be developed and managed (Molur et al. 1997).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.2. Genome resource bank
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.3. Sub-national level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.3. Sub-national level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over part of range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.2. Gathering terrestrial plants -> 5.2.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Unknown ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.5. Motivation Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.1. Invasive non-native/alien species/diseases -> 8.1.1. Unspecified species
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓ 

♦  Medicine - human & veterinary
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Research
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Aggarwal, B.B., Sundaram, C., Malani, N. and Ichikawa, H. 2007. Curcumin: the Indian solid gold. In: B.B. Aggarwal, Y.-J. Surh and S. Shishodia (eds), The Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Uses of Curcumin in Health and Disease. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, pp. 1-75. Springer.

Bawa, K.S., Das, A., Krishnaswamy, J., Karanth, K.U., Kumar, N.S. and Rao, M. 2007. Ecosystem Profile: Western Ghats and Sri Lanka Biodiversity Hotspot - Western Ghats Region. Critical Ecosystems Partnership Fund, Virginia.

Deotare, P.W. 2003. VAM fungal association with some plants of ethnomedicinal importance. Geobios 30(1): 65-69.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Jadhav, S.N. and Reddy, K.N. 2006. Threatened Medicinal Plants of Andhra Pradesh. ENVIS-SDNP Newsletter Special Issue: 18-28.

Jagtap, S.D., Deokule, S.S. and Bhosle, S.V. 2006. Some unique ethnomedicinal uses of plants used by the Korku tribe of Amravati district of Maharashtra, India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 107(3): 463-469.

Mangaly, J.K. and Sabu, M. 1993. A taxonomic revision of the South Indian species of Curcuma. Rheeda 3(2): 139-171.

Manguly, J.K. and Sabu, M. 1987. Curcuma pseudomontana: a revised description. Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany 10(1): 159.

Molur, S. and Walker, S. 1997. Conservation Assessment and Management Plan Workshop (C.A.M.P. III) for Selected Species of Medicinal Plants of Southern India. Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions, Bangalore and ZOO/ Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, India & Medicinal Plants Specialist Group, SSC, IUCN.

Oomachan, M. 1996. Environmental changes and its impact on biodiversity at and around Pachmarhi hills of Madhya Pradesh. In: S.K. Agarwal, S. Tiwari and P.S. Dubey (eds), Biodiversity and Environment, APH publishing, New Delhi.

Prakash, R.K. and Screeramulu, S.H. 1985. Ethnobotany of selected medicinal plants of Srikakulam District. Andra Pradesh Ancient Science of life 4(4): 238-244.

Ram Rao, N. 2006. Wild plant genetic resources of Godavari valley of eastern Ghats in Andra Pradesh. The Eastern Ghats Eptris-Envis Newsletter 12(2): 3-6.

Raut, M. 1959. Our monsoon plants. Bombay Natural History Society.

Ravindran, P.N., Nirmal Babu, K. and Sivaraman, K. 2007. Turmeric: the Genus Curcuma. CRC Press, Boca Raton, Fla. ; London.

Santapau, H. 1953. Curcuma pseudomontana Grah. en Bombay (India). Anales del Jardín Botánico de Madrid 11(1): 267-279.

Santapau, H. 1953. On a common species of Curcuma of Bombay and Salsette Island. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 51: 135-139.

Sasikumar, B. 2005. Genetic ressources of Curcuma: diversity, cahracterization and utilization. Plant genetic Ressources 3: 230-251.

Syamkumar, S. and Sasikumar, B. 2007. Molecular marker based genetic diversity analysis of Curcuma species from India. Scientiae Horticulturae 112: 235-241.

Tetali, P., Punekar, S.A. and Lakshminarasimhan, P. 2004. A new variety of Arisaema (Araceae) from Western Ghats of India. Kew Bulletin 59(3): 483-487.

Tiwari, V.J. and Padhye, M.D. 1993. Ethnobotanical study of Gond tribe of Chandrapur and Gadchiroli districts of Maharashtra State, India. Fitoterapia 64(1): 58-61.

Tyagi, D.K. 2005. Pharma Forestry: Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Atlantic, New Dehli.

Citation: Romand-Monnier, F. & Contu, S. 2013. Curcuma pseudomontana. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22486190A44506743. . Downloaded on 18 January 2017.
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