Bloom in The Woods

Raj Kumar Singh By Raj Kumar Singh, 13th Nov 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>News>Environment

Article is about the abundant of orchids in northeastern part of India and some data gathered by some government agencies...

orchids of northeast india

The northeast region of India is home to more than 1500 species of orchids with Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim being the paradise of orchids in India. The people here are traditionally indebted to this flora as they use them for various medicinal purposes as well as use them in their food. Apart from these two states all the other states in this cluster are blessed with varieties of orchids. With friendly climatic condition which is considered highly suitable for a variety of flora and fauna to flourish, the state of Manipur too is a thriving location for orchids. That the state's orchid granary is still not full becomes evident in the fact that more orchid species are still being discovered in Manipur. Very recently 26 more new species have been discovered in the state. The 26 species were spotted during surveys conducted recently in the deep jungles of the state.
The discovery was made in a survey conducted by a research team of the Centre for Orchid Gene Conservation of the Eastern Himalayan Region in the forests of Manipur. Of the total 286 reported species of orchids grown in Manipur, the research team of the centre, located at Henbung hill range in Senapati district, has collected 211 species so far apart from the 26 new species found in Senapati and Ukhrul districts, said S P Vij, a retired professor of Punjab University involved with orchid research for nearly five decades. Vij is the Principal Investigator (P1) of Centre for Orchid Gene Conservation of the Eastern Himalaya Region and is a globally-acclaimed orchid scientist.
Prof Vij revealed the discovery about the new species on the occasion of inaugurating a laboratory building at Henbung hill range in Senapati district today. A former faculty member of Punjab University and an avid orchid researcher for nearly five decades, Prof Vij ex-claimed, We have now preserved all the 237 species at the centre's orchidarium and field gene bank. Our team will continue to survey the remaining hill districts of Tamenglong, Chandel and Churachandpur and we are expecting around 500 species if we scan the entire jungles of Manipur." Prof Vij sustains his enthusiasm in orchid researches and discoveries with a team of 20 staff comprising of scientists, technicians and junior research fellows of the Centre, which was reportedly set up in 2010 and funded by the ministry of science and technology. Orchids are in demand worldwide not only for their captivating beauty and long lasting flowers but also for therapeutic purposes in curing different ailments. Vanilla which is a flavouring agent is also an orchid which is the second priciest spice in the world, next to saffron. But full realization of their economic potential has, however, remained abysmally low due to lack of awareness about these plants and non availability of suitable planting materials. A number of species found in Manipur continue to be illegally smuggled into Myanmar where a kilogram fetches about Rs 300 to 600 per kilogram. The price of orchids on reaching Chinese soil mounts up to about $15000 for the same quantity, as the flower plants are in high demand due to its medicinal value under the eastern medical system. Moreover, deforestation through burning and felling of forest trees for timber has been one of the main reasons for the dwindling orchid growth. A large number of orchid species which were present in plenty in Indian forests are now on the verge of extinction.
Taking into account the economic viability and the northeast states' friendly climate a lot can be done to conserve the wealth as well as turn this into a feasible business option. Although a number of enterprising people have chosen it as a business option, but more awareness needs to be generated in this regard.
The Centre for Orchid Gene Conservation of the Eastern Himalaya Region with its own ultra-modern laboratory, an orchidarium and field gene bank spread over an area of 250 acres is hoped to work in this regard. Soon orchid germ-plasm would be made available to growers, research institute, forest department and different universities of the country by this centre. According to a source in the centre it would focus on training, technology for protecting, restoring endangered species, identification of useful species, cultivation, processing, packaging, marketing and linkages with collectors and farmers and a strong communication networks to link-up with medicinal plant experts.
Alarmingly, in the last two decades Manipur witnessed various environmental degradations due to various factors arising out of human interference including mass jhuming in the hilly areas as well as some portion of the valley areas. Although the impacts of jhuming are not felt by the mass for lack of awareness, it is evident that jhuming or deforestation is leading to a number of ecological catastrophes like frequent occurrence of landslide and mud slide in the hills of Manipur. This is indeed a bad omen for orchid growth in the state. Hence this should also be taken into consideration.


Flora, Orchids, Wild India

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author avatar Raj Kumar Singh
i am a full time employed, i want to help other people with some good written stuffs......

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author avatar vpaulose
23rd Nov 2012 (#)

Good information on orchids. Thank you Raj.

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