Monday, September 20, 2021

New Record for Indian Floral | Novel orchid species found in Uttarakhand

In a pleasant development for the Indian flora, a rare species of Orchids were recently found in India for the first time.

A research paper on this novel addition to Indian flora has been published in the six-monthly journal of the Botanical Survey of India (BSI)- ‘Nelumbo.’

The discovery:

Site of discovery: The rare species of orchids, scientifically named as ‘Cephalanthera erecta var. Oblanceolate was found recently, for the first time in India in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district.

It was found growing in the humus-rich soil of Quercus Rhododendron Boreal forest during a floristic exploration earlier this year.
The ‘one-of-it’s-kind species was found at an altitude of 1870 meters, according to experts from the Botanical Survey of India (BSI) and the Uttarakhand forest department.

The process: The samples of the rare orchid species found at Chamoli were sent by the Uttarakhand Forest Department to senior scientists from BSI Kolkata for study & research into its genesis in India.

Upon studying the samples closely, the orchid species were found to be extremely rare. Thus, existing literature on the species was studied and discussed before it was finally confirmed that the species was indeed reported for the first time in India

About the novel orchid species: (‘Cephalanthera erecta var. Oblanceolate’)

“Cephalanthera represents a small group of terrestrial orchids with about 19 taxa, attributed mainly to Europe, North America, and temperate parts of Asia.

The genus of the Cephalanthera species in India is so far represented by two species that include Cephalanthera damasonium and Cephalanthera longifolia, mainly confined to the Himalayan region. Further, the rare orchid species is an endangered flowering plant species according to IUCN.

Chamoli: The orchid haven of India

Uttarakhand is the home to 250 recorded species of orchids. With the Mandal valley in the Chamoli district being particularly rich in orchid species, due to high rainfall and very rich vegetation cover.

Further, in another milestone development for the state of Uttarakhand and the Indian flora, a very rare species of orchids, ‘Liparis pygmaea’ was once again found in India after nearly 124 years, in the alpine meadows of Chamoli district at an altitude of 3800 meters.

What it means for India?

About 20 to 30 individual plants of this species were discovered from a small area in Chamoli during their floristic exploration in the higher Himalayan reaches.
The rare orchid species, listed under the endangered plant species of IUCN is under direct threat due to anthropogenic activities from tourism and pilgrimage-related activities. However, their discovery in India reflects a flourishing state of the ecosystem.

The finding has enriched the rich flora of not just Uttarakhand but the flora of India as a whole. Further, it is a boon for the floriculture industry of India.

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