Humboldtia brunonis Wall.

Family: Leguminosae;
Sub Family  : Caesalpinioideae
Common Name: Kattasokam
Conservation Status: Endangered

Key characters: Small tree; leaves pinnate with 2 pairs of leaflets; leaflets with prominent domatia.

A small and highly ornamental tree found distributed north to Palghat Gap and seen up to Uduppi Hills in Karnataka. Seen in small populations distributed in the above-said regions. Plants 4 to 5 m high. Leaves pinnate, creamy white and drooping when young; leaflets 2 pairs. Inflorescence short erect racemes, axillary and cauliflorous. Flowers pinkish white, with exserted stamens. Fruit a flat pod.

A red-flowered variety of species, Humboldtia brunonis var. raakthapushpa Udayan et al. recently reported (2007), from a small location at Kakkayam in Kozhikode District of Kerala. So far found in a small population of less than 100 plants in the above locality.

Note: The genus Humboldtia Vahl. (Family Legiminosae – Caesalpinioideae) with nine taxa, (7 species and two varieties), is a highly endemic genus seen in the Western Ghats Biogeographical Zone (including Sri Lanka). Except for the single species H. laurifolia endemic to Sri Lanka, all the other eight taxa are found endemic to the Southern Western Ghats, that too restricted to very small localities and a few populations. Almost all the taxa are categorized under some or other IUCN Red list category. This highly ornamental group of trees is one among the most important trees that need immediate conservation attention.

Ref: Gamble, Fl. Pres. Madras 411. 1919; Sanjappa, Blumea 31: 333. 1986; Ramach. & V.J. Nair, Fl. Cannanore Dist. 166. 1988.

Udayan, Tushar & S.George, J. Bot. Res. Inst. Texas 1: 121. 2007.