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India is home to 1,256 species of orchid: BSI report

Date: 15 July 2019 Tags: Biodiversity

According to recently released orchid census titled ‘Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide’, India is home to 1,256 species of orchid. It is first comprehensive census of orchids of India. It was published recently by Botanical Survey of India (BSI).

Key highlights of Census

  • 1,256 species or taxa of orchids are found in India belonging to 155 genera and 388 species are endemic to India (one-third or 128 arew endemic species are found in Western Ghats).
  • Categories of Orchids: They are broadly categorised into three life forms: (1) epiphytic, (2) terrestrial and (3) mycoheterotrophic. About 60% of all orchids found in India, which is 757 species, are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.
  • Distribution of orchid species: Himalayas, North-East parts of country and Western Ghats are hot-spots of orchids. North-east India rank at top in species concentration, the Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids (Kerala has 111 endemic species, Tamil Nadu has 92).
  • Among 10 bio geographic zones of India: Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • Highest number of orchid species (state wise): It is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh with 612 species, followed by Sikkim (560 species) and West Bengal-Darjeeling Himalayas (479 species).
  • Significant characteristics: Orchids have complex floral structure that facilitates biotic cross-pollination and makes them evolutionarily superior to the other plant groups.
  • Conservation: The entire orchid family is listed under Appendix II of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and hence any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.