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Orchids

The entire region of North East with its sister states enthrall a perfect plethora of rare, exotic, orchid species which are not found anywhere in the world. It is a botanist’s paradise and is often compared to the rich and dense jungles of Amazon, much of which is undisturbed. Let’s huddle you to our warm and loving North East and give you a brief on some of the unique orchid species found here and then, leave the rest to your imagination!
Sikkim is the smallest state of the Indian Union yet it surpasses other states of India in having maximum orchid diversity trailing just behind Arunachal Pradesh which has the highest number of orchid species. Sikkim has always been wary of the illegal trade, destruction of natural habitat issues dampening the nature conservation efforts and the government has since, taken huge efforts in making Sikkim a conservation juggernaut.
Dendrobium nabile:
It has been deemed the state flower of Sikkim and rightfully so, if one has ever seen the magnificence of the flower- Incomparable just as the state. It is found in different altitudes throughout Sikkim, but the brightest purplish flowers of this species are found near high altitudes. A lot of these pretty flowers are found near the river Teesta.
Cymbidium Devonianum: This orchid species is named after the duke of Devonshire. A fragrance like eucalyptus and flowers with a green base overlaid with olive and a bit of burgundy spotting and striping. It flowers during the spring season and a white color variant appears to be the most appealing of the lot.
Coelogyne crisata:
This is an evergreen, epiphytic orchid with dark green leaves which are up to a foot long. The flower is marvelously white with yellow stalks in the center. These flowers are found in higher altitudes of 1500-2000m, and in Sikkim you can find it at the Fambhong Lo wildlife sanctuary basking in its natural glory.
Aerides multiflorum:
This particular orchid species is very hard to find but very hard to forget once found! As the name suggests, it has several flowers arranged around a stalk with many long, thin leaves surrounding it. It smells like heaven and has an appearance just as that of a bouquet. As unique its appearance is, the chances of finding it is even harder- just along the Eastern Himalayan ranges.
Arachnanthe clarkei:
These are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful flowers found in the region. The perfect saying for it would probably be “Too much beauty is a curse”. Its beauty is such that it has been exploited to the point of extinction. It is now native only to the native pockets of Eastern Himalayas and Sikkim comes under it. These bright red flowers bloom during the late fall and are generally found in higher altitudes ranging from 1500 meters. The genus is also known as Esmeralda.
Sikkim Microula:
This flower is the Himalayan equivalent of the infamous touch-me-not plant. It has a lot of medicinal uses and is a precious resource for the indigenous people. The flowers are blue or purple in color and bloom during the months of July-September. One can be seen at the Yumthang valley in Sikkim at altitudes of 500-4600 metres.
Nuns Orchid:
These magnificent species are found in different places such as in Sikkim, Australia, Malaysia, Vietnam etc. with its appearance similar to that of a nun, with its head bowed down in prayer- which makes it very appealing to observe. Can be observed across Sikkim with its color bearing an attractive purple hue.
Himalayan white primrose:
As the name suggests, it is found in the Himalayan ranges but at very high altitudes of 3500-4600 meters. Found near the Tsomgo Lake in Sikkim and certain other locations, these have a whitish appearance with a yellowish hue in the centre and its leaves form a rosette. The flowering period is from June-July.
Cup of Gold:
Precious name, ain’t it! The scientific name Solandra maxima seems even better. As the name suggests, it has large bell shaped yellow flowers with are almost 6 inches long and 7 inches wide. The bright yellow color compliments its shape as it turns dark yellow with age and looks almost like a golden cup. They are fragrant with a scent reminiscent of coconut. It is endemic to Mexico but cultivated largely in Sikkim owing to its climate. One can find it enroute to Gangtok.
Shining Ceropegia
This particular climber was presumed to be extinct until recently rediscovered in Sikkim. It has been named shining because of its very bright green leaves. The flowers are very unique as it is cylindrical in shape with a broad mouth like opening. It is yellowish green in color with purple spots throughout. It is found throughout Sikkim but it is very hard to see one. Almost extinct guys!
Sikkim Rhubarb
One can spot this even from across a mile- such is the height of this shrub which is higher than any flower found in its habitat. It is often called a glasshouse plant because of is outer curtain of translucent bracts which pass visible light creating a greenhouse effect, thereby blocking the UV radiations. It is used by people to shield themselves from extreme cold conditions like those in the upper ranges of Sikkim. The stem of this plant is pleasantly acidic and are consumed by the local people who call it Chuka. Sikkim rhubarb is native to the Sikkim and Tibet region only- found at altitudes as high as 4500 m.
Cirrhopetalum Sikkimense
As the name suggests, these orchids were discovered in Sikkim, with its shape similar to that of a bunch of tiny elves’ shoes arranged in a circular clusters. It is found around the foothills of Sikkim at an elevation of 300-500m and blooms during the month of August-September. Its unusual appeal adds a lot of value to this plant and is a very popular export item from India.
Yakla Snow Lotus
This is a rare perennial herb, found high in the Himalayas, at altitudes of 3500-4300 m. It is named after the Yakla Pass in Sikkim. Yakla Snow Lotus is a beautiful perennial plant. Deep purple flowers with the flower-head surrounded by a ring or rosette of purplish bracts, makes it look beautiful.
Contents Composed By – Gaurav Gupta

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