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The tree Syzygium travancoricum is listed as Critically Endangered (species facing an “extremely high risk of extinction in the immediate future” ) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

First discovered in the swampy lowlands (altitude less than 65 m) of Travancore by Bourdillon in 1894,  it is a large tree sparsely distributed in evergreen hill forest and deciduous forest, occurring up to 1,000 m. It is found in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala states. 35 trees of this species were discovered in the Myristica swamps of Siddapur taluk in Uttar Kannada district of Karnataka.

Syzygium travancoricum. a) Habitat; b) coppicing stump; c) floating water roots; d) a single flower and e) twig with fruits. Image courtesy: http://www.ces.iisc.ernet.in

The Western Ghats contain diverse ecosystems. Among them, are rare fresh water wetlands confined to low altitudes. Characterized by the slow flowing streams of the Western Ghats’ river system, these wetlands are called Myristica swamps. Trees belonging to a primitive family of angiosperms; “Myristicaceae” are the dominant tree species of this unique wetland ecosystem. These wetlands also host the critically endangered Syzygium travancoricum  and play a critical role in water storing and maintaining ground water level. Myristica swamps are critically endangered ecosystem in Western Ghats.

Syzygium travancoricum occurs over a range extending from South Kanara in Karnataka to the southern tip of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.

The tree population has declined considerably because of over-exploitation (logging and wood harvesting) and habitat degradation. According to researchers, regeneration appears to be very poor. For more information, visit IUCN website, IISC website