Hydrophytes Completely Immersed in Water : A Part from the Book Chapter : Pteridophyte Flora of Western Ghats- A Review

Fern and fern allies can be seen in humid and shady places. The common types of forests that act as habitats for pteridophytes are tropical, subtropical and moist-deciduous forests. Geographically ferns can be seen from sea level to the highest mountains. They are highly sensitive to microclimatic conditions, thus even small disturbances in the climatic and other environmental factors can cause their extinction from the natural habitats, and hence the existence of pteridophytes is largely dependent on the existence of these forests. Pteridophytes can also be seen as epiphytes on trees, lithophytes on the crevices of rocks, and even as hydrophytes completely immersed in water.

India is a subcontinent that hosts a wide variety of habitats. The climatic condition in India varies from the hot and dry Thar Desert in the North-West to the wettest place on the earth, Mawsynram in the North-East. The country is home to the dry deciduous forest in its southern part and also accommodates the Great Himalayas in the North. In this way, each part of this subcontinent shows a variety of habitats for pteridophytes and a large portion of these species are endemic. The main hotspots of pteridophyte diversity in India are:

Author(s) Details:

Athira Krishnan
Department of Botany, Sree Narayana College, Nattika, Thrissur, Kerala-680566, India.

Rekha K.
Department of Botany, Vimala College (Autonomous), Thrissur, Kerala-680009, India.

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Recent Global Research Developments in Pteridophytes: Exploring the Rich History of Seedless Vascular Plants

Diversity in India:

  • India boasts a diverse pteridophytic flora, with approximately 500 species of ferns and 100 species of fern-allies recorded.
  • The Pteridophytic flora of India includes 67 families, 191 genera, and more than 1,000 species.
  • Notably, there are 47 endemic Indian ferns, constituting around 41-43% of the total pteridophytes in India. [1]

Ecological Distribution:

  • Pteridophytes exhibit distinctive ecological patterns. They thrive in various habitats, including epiphytic vegetation, forest margins, roadsides, and forest floors.
  • Despite forming only 5% of the total vascular plant species in India, ferns and fern-allies significantly contribute to the vegetational pattern, ranking second only to flowering plants[1].

Research and Studies:

  • In the 19th century, pioneers like R. H. Beddome, C.B. Clarke, and C.W. Hope laid the groundwork for fern taxonomy in the Indian subcontinent.
  • The Indian Fern Society, established in 1983, has facilitated collaboration among pteridologists and promoted fern studies through meetings and publications.
  • Foreign scientists also contributed to Indian pteridophyte research [1].


  1. Rawat, V. K., & Satyanarayana, P. (2015). Pteridophytes of India: diversity, distribution and conservation. International Day for Biological Diversity, Biodiversity for Sustainable Development, 28-132.
  2. Sureshkumar, J., Jenipher, C., Gurav, S.S. et al. Local Knowledge on Wild Edible and Economically Important Pteridophytes of India: A Review. Hum Ecol 51, 937–977 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-023-00445-6
  3. Rao, S. M. G. N. Distribution of Pteridophytes along the Eastern Ghats of India-A Review.

To Read the Complete Chapter See Here

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