The first orchid conservation center of Uttarakhand was inaugurated on Friday in the Chamoli district of the state.
The conservation center is spread over an area of around six acres with four parts, including a demonstration area, a 1.25 km long orchid trail, an interpretation center, and a nursery.
“The main aim of establishment of the orchid center is to conserve orchid species as well as create venues for tourism and livelihood of local people,” said Sanjiv Chaturvedi, Chief Conservator of Forest Research.
Orchid is a plant with showy flowers and is found worldwide, especially in tropical areas. The traces can be found in the Himalayan ranges and their foothills.
The newly established center in Uttarakhand has 70 different orchid species, most of which are medicinally and ecologically important.
A good number of these orchid species, like Lady’s Slipper Orchid, comes under the threatened category.
The Research Wing of the Uttarakhand Forest Department has prepared the orchid center over two years, during which the team discovered six new species.
Uttarakhand has around 250 recorded orchid species, which represent terrestrial as well as epiphyte species. Mandal valley in Chamoli district is particularly rich in orchid species, given high rainfall and very rich vegetation cover. It has more than 50 recorded orchid species.
Orchid has the same place in the plant kingdom as the tiger has in the animal kingdom. However, orchids are very sensitive to ecological changes, and thereby they are considered to be good indicators of the health of any ecosystem.
Activities like rapid construction work, deforestation, and the smuggling of orchids have threatened their existence.
In Uttarakhand, epiphyte orchids are found mostly on Banjh, Aiyyarn, and Toona trees. Lopping of Banjh Oak for fodder purposes greatly damages epiphyte orchids coming on the branches.
All orchid species are protected under CITES, which means that their international trade requires prior permission.
Hatha Jadee, Jeevak, Riddhi, Vriddhi, Rishbhak, Salam Mishri are some of the prominent medicinal species found in Uttarakhand.
Sikkim and other north-eastern states have promoted the use of orchids on a big scale, for tourism purposes as well as for livelihood, as the plants have a long shelf life. Because of their beauty, unusual patterns, and color combinations, orchids are considered very good for the cut flower business.
The center will also have the newly discovered species – Liparis Pygmaea, Cephalanthera Erecta, Oblanceolate Habenaria Stenopetala, Neottia Listeroides, Oreorchis patens, Dendrobium Chrysanthemum, and Calanthe Alpina.