Orchids in India – UPSC GS1

  • According to the first comprehensive census of orchids of India titled ‘Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide’, India is home to 1,256 species of orchid.
  • Census us published by the Botanical Survey of India.
  • Census will be useful for researchers, growers, nature lovers and people with different backgrounds.
Key Findings of Study
  • 388 species of orchids are endemic to India. Out of the 388 species about one-third (128) endemic species are found in Western Ghats.
  • Orchids can be broadly categorized into 3 life forms
    • Epiphytic :
      • are plants growing on another plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte.
      • About 60% of all orchids found in India are epiphytic.
      • These are abundant up to 1800 m (above sea level) and their occurrence decreases with increase in altitude.
    • Terrestrial :
      • are plants growing on land and climbers.
      • 447 species in India are terrestrial.
      • These grow directly on soil, are found in large numbers in temperate and alpine region.
    • Mycoheterotrophic :
      • are plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant.
      • These are mostly associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, are found in temperate regions, or are found growing with parasites in tropical regions.
  • Distribution of orchid:
    • Himalayan zone is richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast India, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) Islands.
    • North-East India rank at top in species concentration of Orchids.
    • Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
    • Highest number of orchid species: is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh followed by Sikkim and West Bengal.
  • The entire orchid family is listed under Appendix II of CITES. Thus any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.
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