Orchid conservation efforts in U'khand bearing fruit

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Gopeshwar (U'khand), Jan 29 (PTI) Orchid conservation efforts by the Uttarakhand Forest Department have begun to bear fruit with rare varieties of flowers found in the Himalayan region blooming in full glory at the Orchid Park developed in Mandal valley famous for its association with the Chipko movement.

More than 25 local varieties of orchids have been grown at the park developed on a barren stretch of land in Khalla village van panchayat around 13 km from the Chamoli district headquarters.

Conducive conditions were created at the park in-situ by the research wing of the state forest department for the natural growth of orchids by conserving the baanj forests in the area.

Range officer Harish Negi who has been associated with the research and development of the park said one hectare of land in Mandal valley was identified for the project an year ago and more than 25 local varieties of orchid have so far been developed there during the period out of which many have blossomed. There are at least 67 varieties of orchids in Mandal valley which alone constitutes 30 per cent of the total varieties of flowers found in Uttarakhand, Negi said.

The colour diversity of orchid flowers, their varying shapes and enduring freshness are the biggest speciality of this vegetation which makes it the centre of attraction of flower lovers all over the world, Negi said.

Rich in medicinal qualities, the orchid vegetation which needs special climatic conditions to grow is considered an essential part of the ecological system and plays an important role in horticulture. Orchid plants found in the Himalayan meadows are recognised for their medicinal virtues, Negi said, adding 'salam panja' is its leading example. Considering the importance of orchids in the ecological system, the results of the initiative taken by the research wing of the state forest department are really encouraging, Chief Coordinator of CPB Environment and Development Centre Vinay Semwal said. According to forest department data, Uttarakhand is home to around 238 varieties of orchids. Locals put orchid plants to a variety of uses including 'mangal snan', a preliminary marriage ritual in addition to other cultural and religious ceremonies, noted environment activist Murari Lal said. Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh are the leading states in the country growing orchids on a large scale. PTI COR ALM RHL