Rare orchids for the first time in Western Himalayas


A very rare species of orchids is identified by the specialist of Botanical Survey of India, Pune. It was found by two officials of Uttarakhand forest department’s research wing during their trek in Chamoli district at an altitude of 3800 metres in June of this year. This species of orchids know scientifically as Orchid Liparis pygmaea. It has been found after a gap of 124 years in alpine meadows of Uttarakhand Himalayas.
The orchid specialist Jeewan Singh Jalal from Botanical Survey of India, Pune says that it is a very small and rare species of orchids. He also informs that it grows only upto five centimetres and flowers in June. This is been reported for the first time in western Himalayas.
“Earlier this species had been reported from Sikkim (1892, 1877) and West Bengal (1896). So, this is a very interesting and exciting finding for us as this species has been found after over a century, which indicates its rarity and stresses upon the need to make efforts for the protection of Himalayan meadows which are still throwing surprises at us with these rare finds,” he said. Nearly 1250 different species of orchids were found in India. Out of this, 250 orchid species are distributed across Uttarakhand alpine zone between 3100 to 3900 metres elevation.
Three individual samples of this rare orchid species Liparis pygmaea (Malaxideae, Orchidaceae) were analysed by Jalal and another botanist from BSI, who then jointly with two others who found the species, published a research paper on the find in the French scientific journal ‘Richardiana’ on July 30 this year.
The research paper titled ‘Liparis pygmaea (Malaxideae, Orchidaceae), a new distributional record from Western Himalaya’ was jointly authored by Jeewan Singh Jalal (from Botanical Survey of India, Western Regional Centre, Pune), Dinesh Kumar (Botanical Survey of India, Sikkim Himalayan Regional Centre, Gangtok) and Manoj Singh, junior research fellow at Forest Research Wing and Harish Negi, Forest Range Officer Uttarakhand. According to the research paper, Liparis is a large genus of the orchid family (Orchidaceae), which includes about 320 species, with 48 species representing the genus in India. Of these 48, so far 10 species have been reported from Western Himalayas.
This report of the rare species of orchids is one of the treasures found in India.