Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide

  • Category
    Geography
  • Published
    1st Aug, 2019

Context

The Botanical Survey of India has published Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide- the first comprehensive census of orchids of India.

About

Highlights of the survey

  • Orchids of India: A Pictorial Guide gives all details of all the species of India, which was unveiled by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • According to the publication, the total number of orchid species endemic to India is 388.
  • 757 (60%) of all orchids found in India are epiphytic, 447 are terrestrial and 43 are mycoheterotrophic.
  • The Himalayas, North-East parts of India and Western Ghats are the hot-spots of orchids.
  • The highest number of orchid species is recorded from Arunachal Pradesh followed by Sikkim and West Bengal. The Western Ghats have high endemism of orchids.
  • Among the bio geographic zones of India, the Himalayan zone is the richest in terms of orchid species followed by Northeast, Western Ghats, Deccan plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
  • The publication point out that Kerala has 111 of these endemic species while Tamil Nadu has 92 of them.

Orchids

  • Orchids have unique shape and ornamentation and have complex floral structure that facilitates biotic cross-pollination
  • They are broadly categorised into three life forms: a) epiphytic (plants growing on another plants including those growing on rock boulders and often termed lithophyte), b) terrestrial (plants growing on land and climbers) and c) mycoheterotrophic (plants which derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular plant).
  • The epiphytic orchids are abundant up to 1800 m above the sea level and their occurrence decreases with the increase in altitude.
  • Terrestrial orchids, which grow directly on soil, are found in large numbers in temperate and alpine region whereas mycoheterotrophic orchids, mostly associated with ectomycorrhizal fungi, are found in temperate regions, or are found growing with parasites in tropical regions.
  • The entire orchid family is listed under appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and hence any trade of wild orchid is banned globally.
  • Some of the orchids like Dendrobium , Phalaenopsis, Oncidium and Cymbidium are quite popular in floriculture trade and have a demand both within and outside country.

Botanical Survey of India (BSI)

  • BSI is the apex research organization under the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) for carrying out taxonomic and floristic studies on wild plant resources of the country.
  • Its objective is to undertake intensive floristic surveys and collect accurate and detailed information on the occurrence, distribution, ecology and economic utility of plants in the country.
  • It was established in 1890 with objective to explore plant resources of country and to identify plants species with economic virtues.
  • It develops National database of Indian plants, including herbarium and live specimens, botanical paintings and illustrations, etc.

CITES

  • It is an international agreement between governments aimed to ensure international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
  • By this agreement States and regional economic integration organizations adhere voluntarily. States that have agreed to be bound by the Convention ('joined' CITES) are known as Parties.
  • Although, legally binding – in other words they have to implement the Convention – it does not take the place of national laws. Rather it provides a framework to be respected by each Party, which has to adopt its own domestic legislation to ensure that CITES, is implemented at the national level.

How CITES works?

  • It works by subjecting international trade in specimens of selected species to certain controls. All import, export, re-exports and introduction from the sea of species covered by the Convention has to be authorized through a licensing system.
  • Each Party to the Convention must designate one or more Management Authorities in charge of administering that licensing system and one or more Scientific Authorities to advise them on the effects of trade on the status of the species.
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