Orchid Wealth in India
India must conserve its orchid wealth
WHY IN NEWS:
Earnest measures are needed, involving awareness efforts among all stakeholders
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Conservation of Biodiversity : Flora and Fauna
For PRELIMS go through conservation, naming , reproduction etc .
For MAINS device a perfect strategy which should conserve orchid population . We have mentioned a To-do list . Let us dive in !
ORCHID WEALTH IN INDIA
- They are a highly evolved family, with 600-800 genera and 25,000-35,000 species all over the globe.
- Theophrastus (370-285 BC), known as the ‘Father of Botany’, gave the name ‘Orchids’ to these plants.
- It is based on the resemblance of paired underground tubers of the plants to male anatomy (the testes).
- Monopodial orchids like Phalanopsis, Renanthera and Vanda grow continuously with a central stem.
- Sympodial orchids like Cattleya and Cympodium have a main stem that terminates growth at the end of each season.
Orchids are classified into three categories, namely
- EPIPHYTIC : Plants that grow on another plant and rock boulders
- TERRESTRIAL : Plants that grow on land and climbers
- MYCOHETEROTROPHIC : Plants that derive nutrients from mycorrhizal fungi that are attached to the roots of a vascular or flowing plant.
- A new shoot that grows from the base, becomes the bulbous stem known as pseudo-bulb, that flowers finally.
- The pseudo-bulb stores food and water and functions like bulbs.
- Grasslands also provide habitat for certain terrestrial orchids.
- The minute seeds of the orchids have only minimal reserves of nutrients.
- As a result, the seeds depend upon mycorrhizal fungi for the carbon resources to germinate.
- The germination percentage is reported to be only about 0.3.
- These plants are perennial herbs with simple leaves.
- Humanity has been familiar with orchids since the Vedic period.
- In the Rig Veda and the Atharva Veda (1500-800 BC), there is mention about Vanda tessallata (Rasna) and Flickingeria macrai (Sanjeevani) and their medicinal properties.
- There are 1,256 species of orchids in India, the BSI estimates.
- Of the 1,256 species belonging to 155 genera, 388 species are endemic to India.
- Of the 388 endemic species, about one-third (128) species have been found to be growing in the Western Ghats.
- They are followed by the North East, Western Ghats, Deccan Plateau and Andaman & Nicobar Islands, respectively.
- Due to such reasons, the family consists of the maximum number of threatened species in nature.
- The Orchidaceae family is under serious threat due to rapid destruction of natural habitat .
- The multifaceted adaptability and fast replicating characteristics of invasive species suppress the native flora, including orchids.
- As orchids have mycorrhizal specificity, pollinator specialisation and limited germination rates , they are extremely susceptible to habitat disturbance.
- Orchids must be protected through in situ and ex situ conservation for long-term survival in their natural habitats.
- Many orchids that were present in plenty in the past, have now become rare and endangered.
- Because of its high value, endangered status and its significant role in the ecosystem, the family is often used as a flagship group in biological conservation.
- All species of Orchidaceae have been listed in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in Appendix II of the Convention of International Trade (CITES).
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
- IDENTIFYING EXPERTS : The field staff of the forest department across India, have to be trained to identify orchids, as they are the custodians of their habitats.
- TRAINING : Experts on orchids should be engaged to impart training to field staff.
- INCLUSION : All the species of the Orchidaceae family should be included in the Act for better protection.
- SEED BANK : Orchid seed banks and germplasm banks should be established.
- AWARENESS : By creating orchid conservation areas local people and tourists can be made aware of this plant wealth and its significance.
- SUPPORT : With the support of the stakeholders, it may be easy to conserve this rare plant wealth.
- SANCTUARIES : Orchid sanctuaries can also be formed as is the case in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
- Assam is the second state that has set up the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary.