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   It was Theophrastus who first used the Greek word orchis to indicate the particular group of plants whose roots, dried and chopped, were used in traditional pharmacopioeia of Greece and neighboring Asia Minor as anti-depressants and stimulants, and even today in some rural areas of these countries “salep”, nutritious drink prepared from the dried tubers of certain orchids, is not uncommonly found.

Ancient Aztec inscription tell us how the fruits of the tropical climbing orchid Vanilla was used by Aztech peoples to flavor a traditional drink made from cocoa beans.

Until the twentieth century, when the technique of raising orchids in a greenhouse was transformed by the efforts of Bernard, Knudson and Morel, the plants hitherto cultivated by the great European collectors with varying degree success during the previous 150 years, had all originated from the collections that the famous plant hunters, financed by European enthusiasts, sent or brought back from the inter-tropical zones of other continents.

                The orchids have attracted the attention of botanists, horticulturists, and layman for their unique properties that are usually not found in other members of the plant kingdom. The increasing demand of these usually attractive flowers both in the national and international has led to the indiscriminate exploitation of the members. At first, all epiphytic orchids were classified as Epidendrum (meaning “tree-dwelling”).

 Afterward it was realized that a single genus could not cover the wide variety of plant being discovered, so new genera were created.

                      However, it is significant to note that the entire family Orchidaceae being considered as rare and endangered plant group, has been placed under category –I and II of Wild Life Conservation Act under IUCN regulations.

With the discovery of aseptic culture of seeds in a nutrient solution by Knudson (1946), it became easier to germinate and culture orchids in vitro by replacing the requirement of mycorrhizal fungus. Subsequent discovery of clonal propagation from the merismatic tissue (Morel 1950, 1964) revolutionalized the orchid industry. Through this technique, it is now possible to micro-propagate the desired clones of orchid species and hybrids in large numbers. This technology has been widely adopted through out the world for the conservation of rare and endangered plants, as well as for commercial production of various plants including orchids.

Because of their curious, long lasting, brilliantly colored flowers, they occupy special position in the floriculture industry.  They are considered as “gems” in the field of floriculture.  Orchid accounts for 2.7% of global cut – flower production in terms of value.  Thailand alone exports orchid worth more than 26 million (US $).  Thailand has more than 700 orchid growers and about 20 commercial Tissue culture laboratories producing more than 32 million plants of which 55% is exported.

Successful scientific research into the reproduction, planting and cultivation of orchids has now made orchid growing much easier, and what was previously a mania pursued by a few privileged collectors has today been transformed into a hobby for every one to enjoy.

Orchids have for a long been regarded as flowers enjoyed exclusively by upper classes such as royal families or wealthy people.  With the discovery of the mericional method, the time has come when they can be enjoyed by anyone, much as is the case with most ordinary flowers.




   Amongst the many floral treaties of Sikkim Himalaya one of the earliest ones may be found over the genus Rhododendron (Gk. rhodo = red, dendrons = tree ). 



Rarity Status
L.K Rai Notes


  Orchid known for their brilliance in colors, unusual shapes attractive growth habits, variety in fragrance and exquisite beauty can attract any nature lovers.





The Genus



Medicinal Plant

Sikkim with its total geographical area of 7,096 sq km is bestowed with a huge diversity of flora and fauna. 




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