Two new orchid species have been discovered at Ziro Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
The two new species — Thrixspermum japonicum and Gastrochilus platycalcaratus — were found by Khyanjeet Gogoi, an orchid specialist, Koj Rinya and Santosh Kumar Reddy, working in the divisional forest office, Hapoli forest division, Lower Subansiri district, Arunachal Pradesh.
The species were found during an orchid translocation project of the Arunachal forest department.
The find has found mention in the latest issue of Pleione, the official Journal of the East Himalayan Society for Spermatophyte Taxonomy which publishes work on the vascular plants of the Himalayan region. The species were found in 2018 and 2019.
Koj Rinya, divisional forest officer of Hapoli forest division and Tale wildlife sanctuary, said the orchid translocation project was initiated in May 2017 to translocate wild orchids, indigenous, rare and endemic of the region to the safe confines of Tale wildlife sanctuary. “Our effort is to prevent the extinction of orchid species facing pressures because of development activities like road widening and others,” she said.
“After the relocation, we have developed a wild orchid conservation trail of 1.5 square km which has 134 species from Ziro Valley at Pange camp of the sanctuary,” she said. “The recent findings are interesting as the two species are the first record from India and therefore, new addition to the orchid flora of the country,” Rinya said.
Thrixspermum japonicum Telegraph picture
Gogoi found Thrixspermum japonicum during a field trip under translocation project, to the forested area of Ziro Valley of lower Subansiri district of Arunachal Pradesh on December 12, 2018. On the basis of available literature and critical examination of the flowers, it was identified as Thrixspermum japonicum that has earlier been known from southern Japan, Korea, China, Bhutan and Taiwan but was never before reported from India.
The present report of Thrixspermum japonicum from Ziro Valley, forms a new addition to India and also to Arunachal Pradesh, thereby taking the total number of Thrixspermum species to 11 in India and five in Arunachal Pradesh.
The orchid species flowers from September-October and is found on trees or branches, growing on the twigs and small branches of pine trees. Its leaves are purplish green, and flowers creamy yellow.
The second species was found during a field trip under the translocation project Ziro Valley on September 20, 2019, by Gogoi, Rinya and Santosh Kumar Reddy when they collected an unidentified orchid in its vegetative condition with flower buds.
The orchid was planted at the orchid trail in Talle wildlife sanctuary at Ziro Valley where it flowered under observation in October 2019. It was known to exist so far only in China (S. Yunnan), Myanmar and Thailand.
With the present collection of Gastrochilus genus from Ziro Valley, the total number of species of this genus in India and Arunachal Pradesh is now 20 and 13 respectively.
It flowers from September-October and is found on tree trunks in coniferous forests.