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How to win Rs 10000? Spot a rare orchid

The award has been announced by Jambey Tsering, in-charge of Orchid Research Centre
Spathoglottis Arunachalensis
Picture courtesy: Jambey Tsering
Roopak Goswami


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Spot the yellow Spathoglottis Arunachalensis, a rare orchid species in Arunachal Pradesh, and take home Rs 10,000.

The award has been announced by Jambey Tsering, the in-charge of Orchid Research Centre at Tipi village in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, to anybody who can trace this rare orchid species.

The species was found in Sessa orchid sanctuary in West Kameng by Tsering and Dr Kothareddy Prasad of the Botanical Survey of India, Deccan Regional Centre, Hyderabad.

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Tsering told The Telegraph that though the species was found in 2016 at the orchid sanctuary, it was identified now. “We have not been able to spot the species any more and in the nearby areas despite many attempts,” he said.

The species has been reported in the current edition of Phytotaxa journal.

Tsering, while researching orchid diversity at the sanctuary between 2016 and 2019, noticed a unique yellow-flowered Spathoglottis population at its southern boundary, where it occurs in isolation from other members of the genus.

“Efforts were made to identify the collected material by a critical study of specimens, perusal of relevant literature and comparison with specimens/ images from different herbaria and then we realised that it was an undescribed species,” he said.

Spathoglottis are terrestrial orchids which bloom nearly throughout the year. However, its Over-collection has drastically decreased its population in the wild. It is one of the most threatened orchid groups with just 50 species known to the world. Only four species are found in India, including the present one,” he said.

He said the Spathoglottis Arunachalensis can be considered endemic to the region and assessed as critically endangered.

A critically endangered species is one which is facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, he added.

The genus Spathoglottis Blume is a group of terrestrial orchids with pseudo bulbs and producing spectacular showy flowers.

It flowers in September-October and generally grows on moist moss-covered hill slopes in open forest and wet banks along the roadsides at an elevation of about 1,200 to 1,250 metres. It is currently known only at Sessa.

The new species is named after Arunachal Pradesh and has over 200 individuals in a single location.

“However, the habitat is now disturbed due to the construction of the trans-Arunachal highway. Few explorations were made in the adjacent habitat but could not locate the species,” he added.

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