Salim Pichan, an Exemplary Parataxonomist

Salim Pichan, Estate Caretaker at MSSRF has dedicated his life to carrying out field botany studies and systematically inventorying the flowering plant species of the Western Ghats for the last 20 years. He was born in a small holder farm family and could study only up to higher secondary school level, but has mastered well the science of classifying and naming higher plant species. He believes and contributes in knowing a wild species systematically and identifying it with a scientific name is the first and foremost step towards conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. He discovered eight new species and six new recordsfrom the relatively well studied group of angiosperms or otherwise called flowering plants, and published jointly with professional experts in reputed journals. Over 2000 botanical names and plants he is familiarised with and keep trekking in almost all forests locations of Kerala. He is also a fine social worker and received many awards and accolades for his achievements. In respect to his contributions to plant taxonomy there is a species from orchid family described in his name called Seidenfadeniellasalimii by the scientific community.

Salim Pichan was one of the 20participants attended the Parataxonomy training course offered for the local community youth by MSSRF in the year 1997 in Wayanad. He was outstanding among the traineesin sorting out specimens, identifying the differential morphological characters, herbarium making, and to understand theprinciples and values of plant populations and ecology. In 1998 MSSRF recruited him as anAgro-biodiversity Conservation Corp- in a project that was supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy, New Delhi for promoting in-situ conservation of agro biodiversity. He quickly proved himself to be an effective conservation expert and a field botanist who can identify flowering plant species and their habitats with much ease. Later on he got connected through the professional taxonomists at MSSRF with the rest of the scientific community in Kerala and neighboring states. He is the most sought after parataxonomist and biodiversity technician (as they have been called in Australia) now in Kerala to assist researchers who engage in taxonomic and conservation studies. He is engaged now in building up the RET plant collections of the M.S. S, Botanical Garden. At the time when professional taxonomists themselves are becoming an endangered species, and still many taxa await to be described and named, people like Salim Pichanare an asset for the biodiversity science and conservation. The weakening of taxonomic and systematic skills becoming more evident among the teachers and researchers alike in India. To address this issue Mr. Salim along with his colleagues and the network experts are offering training and capacity building programmein taxonomy for local youth, panchayth level biodiversity management committee members and researchers in Systematic Botany. A trained cadre of taxonomists from this kind of training programmes will be certainly beneficial to the global mandate tosave, study and conserve biodiversity.

New species discovered by Salim Pichan

  1. CeropegiamanohariiSujanapal, Salim, Anil &Sasidh.,
  2. Dendrobium anilii  P.M. Salim, J. Mathew &Szlach
  3. Liparissanamalabarica P.M. Salim,
  4. 4.PeperomiavellarimalicaJ.Mathew&P.M.Salim,
  5. 5.Sonerilaepeduncula
  6. 6.Liparistortilis P.M. Salim &J.Mathew,
  7. 7.TylophorabalakrishnaniiP.M.Salim&J.Mathew
  8. 8.Sonerilasulpheyi P.M. Salim &J.Mathew, sp. nov.

New distribution /Rediscovery to science

  1. Sarcostemma intermedium Decne.
  2. TarennaagumbensisSundararaghavan,
  3. Amomumcannicarpum(Wight) Benth. ex Baker
  4. Hygrophilaauriculata (K. Schum.) Heine var. alba (Parmar) P.M.Salim, J.Mathew&Yohannan comb.
  5. LiparistschangiiSchltr.
  6. AlocasialongilobaMiq.
Dendrobium aqueum
Acanthephippium bicolor
Bulbophyllum aureum