Malabar Snow Creeper
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Malabar Snow Creeper
P Native Photo: Pravin Kawale
Common name: Malabar Snow Creeper • Marathi: भोवरी Bhowari • Tamil: துரோபதைகூந்தல் Turopatai-kuntal
Botanical name: Dinetus malabaricus    Family: Convolvulaceae (Morning glory family)
Synonyms: Porana malabarica, Porana racemosa sensu authors not Roxb.

Malabar Snow Creeper is a creeper very similar to Snow Creeper, but overall has a more robust aspect, with stouter stems, thicker leaves, noticeably larger fruiting sepals and fruits. The shape of the fruiting sepals and fruits can also be used to differentiate between the two. It is a nearly hairless twiner several meters long. Stems are round, stout, striped or verruculose, stramineous to purplish-brown. Leaf-stalk is round in cross-section, 2.4-7 cm long, nearly hairless. Leaves are broadly heart-shaped, 6.8-12 by 4.2-7.4 cm, base heart-shaped, sinus deep, broad, tip abruptly tapering to apiculate, above darker brown, hairless or sparsely bristly, below paler tan, hairs especially dense along margins and on veins. Flowers are small; buds slenderly spindle-shaped, narrowed at both ends, 5-6.5 mm long, tip pointed. Sepals are equal, lanceshaped, 2-3 by 1 mm, base flat, margins entire, tip narrowed, chartaceous, sparsely golden silky. Flowers are slenderly funnel-shaped, diaphanous, white, 7-9 x 5-9 mm, tube widening gradually, limb spreading abruptly, deeply 5-lobed. Petals are broadly elliptic to ovate, apically blunt to pointed, clustered with tawny hairs, flower otherwise hairless. Fruiting calyx is loosely clasping the fruit, curled back at maturity, sepals all enlarged equally, inner 2 narrower than outer 3, elliptic to narrowly obovate-spoon-shaped, occasionally ovate to lanceshaped, 17-23.5 x 7-12.5 mm, base flat, margins entire, flat, tip blunt, rounded, or retuse and mucronulate, papery, stramineous to brownish or purplish, hairless (rarely sparsely silky). Malabar Snow Creeper is found in the Western Ghats, in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, at altitudes of 600-1500 m.

Identification credit: Maniruddin Dhabak Photographed in Lonavala, Maharashtra.

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