Rare orchid species found in Uttarakhand 124 years after last seen in India: French journal

Liparis pygmaea, a rarest of rare Orchid species appears in the red list of International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Published: 10th September 2020 10:11 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th September 2020 10:11 PM   |  A+A-

Orchid species Liparis pygmaea (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

DEHRADUN: In a first, Liparis pygmaea, a rarest of rare Orchid species restricted to Himalayan region, has been reported in Uttarakhand first time in last 100 years at 3,800 meters elevation from the sea level.

Last time, this species was seen in West Bengal in 1896.

The findings by a team of the research wing of the Uttarakhand state forest department consisting of forest range officer Harish Negi and junior research fellow Manoj Singh have been published in the prestigious French journal 'Richardiana'.

Harish Negi, the forest range officer who led the team said, "The flower was spotted by us at an altitude of 3,800 metre during a trek to Saptakund in Chamoli in June. We were caught by delight and surprise. We collected the samples and sent them to the Botanical Survey of India, Pune, for further confirmation. They confirmed our primary findings."

The rare Orchid species is a terrestrial one which flowers in June-July. It also appears in the red list of IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

This species is known as distributed in India only in Uttarakhand (one locality), Sikkim (three localities) in years 1877 and 1892 and in West Bengal (one locality)] in year 1896 while in other locations in the World it has been sighted in Nepal and China (one locality each).

The findings of the report stated that from Sikkim and West Bengal, it has been observed only once in last 100 years which indicates its rarity.

"We are thrilled as this one has been found for the first time in the western Himalayas. We hope our work helps the botanists in further enriching of knowledge which will bring good to mankind," said Manoj Singh, another team member which spotted the orchid species.

Experts and scientists from the BIS, Pune, confirmed in the paper published in the journal that "on critical examination" it was identified as 'Liparis pygmaea' reveals that it is the first record of this species from the Western Himalayas.

Sanjiv Chaturvedi, chief conservator of forests, research wing of Uttarakhand said, "This was found by the two diligent people who have decided to dedicate their lives for ecology and the environment on the way to Saptkund in  Chamoli district. Now, this discovery widens the range of distribution of this species in the Himalayas."

The report also added that the species is not known under any commercial exploitation and its habitats are vulnerable to several natural and anthropogenic threats.

"Unsustainable tourism and developmental activities are at full pace at all the Indian localities. The species has pollination and germination constraints and also subjected to livestock grazing and trampling," the report said.

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