Orchids

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Sub: Conservation of Orchids in the North East India and its commercialization prospects

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Youd be a wild orchid,
So full of life, colors alive,
Sprinkled with scarlett and purple,
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An orchid with a soul different from them all
different to touch, to hold, to look at.
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(From Poem “A Wild Orchid” by Lanie Alexandria Costeas ) God's own flowers… The orchids are the most exotic and fascinating flowers in the world. Due to their variety, rarity, mysticism they are always surrounded by the curiosity and love of people around the world. Orchids are perennial plants which are members of the largest family of plants - Orchidaceae. Orchis, a genus of European Orchids, lent the name to the entire family which has an extraordinary diversity of species. It is estimated that there are 450 genera with 25,000 species of orchids in the wild, 1 distributed throughout the world; the chief centres of distribution are Indo-Malaya, tropical America, Sikkim and Eastern Himalayas. Orchids form 9% of the flora of India. It is estimated that about 1300 species of 140 genera of orchids are found in our country. The North-East India (located between 87°32'E to 97°52'E latitude and 21° 34' N to 29°50'N latitude) is a genetic treasure house of plant, animal and microbial resources. The region forms a distinctive part of the Indo-Burma Hotspot which ranks the 6th among the 25 biodiversity hotspots of the world .North Eastern India owing to its peculiar gradient and varied climatic conditions contains largest group of temperate, sub-tropical orchids. There is much diversity among the members like large-flowered, terrestrial, epiphytic and also saprophytic orchids. The North-East India, due to its agro-climatic diversity and high humidity and rainfall, forms the richest orchid belt in the country. Of the estimated 1230 species of orchids known from India, 750-800 species occur in this region. A comparative analysis of distribution of orchid species with North-Eastern region revealed that the maximum diversity of orchids is found in Arunachal Pradesh followed by Sikkim, while it is the least in Tripura.

A recent survey found that about 70 orchid species, out of the total, which grow in the region are on the verge of extinction. Some species in the genera like Arundina , 2 Cymbidium, Coelogyne, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, Renanthera, and Vanda are almost extinct. The provisional list of 150 endangered plants of India includes many orchids like Acanthephippium sylhetense, Anoectochilus sikkimensis, Aphyllorchis montana, Arachnanthe clarkei, Arundina graminifolio, Cymbidium macrorhizon, Dendrobium densiforum, Didiciea cunninghamii, Eria crassicaulis, Galeola lindleyana, Gastrodia Exilis, Paphiopedilum fairanum, P. druryi, Pleione humilis, Renanthera imschootiana, Vanda coerulea, V. pumila and V. roxburghi.

Causes of extinction of Orchid population:
Experts state that northeast India has been identified as one of 18 'hot spot' areas in the world (areas in serious distress) in terms of the threat faced by the existing flora and fauna. Agricultural scientists have warned that certain species of exotic orchids, found in northeast India, are now severely depleted mainly due to wide spread deforestation and reckless smuggling. Deforestation through various means, including burning and cutting down forest trees for timber, has been the major cause for the depletion of orchids. Other factors affecting orchid loss include the improper use of land, unscientific 3 cultivation (Jhuming), and the general exploitation of natural resources. Dealing in orchids has always been a lucrative...
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