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‘Kerala: Forked Fanwort blooms in Kozhikode’

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  • Published
    23rd Dec, 2020
  • The aquatic plant behind the ‘pink phenomenon’ is forked fanwort.
  • Local name: It is known locally as ‘mullan payal’.


  • The aquatic plant behind the ‘pink phenomenon’ is forked fanwort.
  • Local name: It is known locally as ‘mullan payal’.
  • Family: It comes from the family of Red Cabomba (Cabomba Furcata).
    • Cabomba is a submerged perennial aquatic plant that grows in stagnant to slow-flowing freshwater. It dominantly belongs to Central and South America. 
  • Native species: It is not a native species found in the waters of Kerala. It is native to South America and is mostly used as an aquarium plant.

Kerala, the spot of alien invasions

  • Kerala has records of biological invasions dating back to the 19th century. It continues to experience several waves of alien invasions till today.
  • Terrestrial invasive alien plants such as Chromoleanaodorata, Lantana Camara, Mikaniamicrantha, Mimosa diplotricha, and Sphagenticolatrilobata, and invasive fauna such as the giant African snail Achatinafulica, papaya mealybug Paracoccusmarginatus, etc have affected the biodiversity of rural and urban spaces in Kerala, said Sajeev.
  • These species impact the ecology and economy by damaging the crops, recreational spaces and small home gardens.
  • They pose significant health risks in some cases as well.

Impact of invasion of Cabombas

  • Decrease in diversity of native plants: The invasion of Cabombas has led to a decrease in the diversity of native aquatic plants.
  • Species conflict: The aquatic ecosystems are under threat of Cabombafurcata and Salviniamolesta where the competition between these two species is clearly visible in the canal.
  • Taking toll on species: It can drain the river of its natural resources including minerals and oxygen, which in turn, could lead to the death or migration of the rest of the aquatic species in the water body.
  • Economic loss: It has also caused economic losses by affecting the yield of freshwater fishes.

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