“The scent of orchids
perfumes the wings
of a butterfly”
The orchid is a surprising flower. Orchids are delicate in care and hardy in the wild. Orchids are known for their heady, sensuous scent, and yet some orchids smell like a fish-market or like rotting flesh. Orchids are lovely flowers, often found in brilliant colors and beautiful shapes; however, there also exist positively strange orchids, like the dragon orchid, monkey orchid, or strangest of all the half-a-ton orchid found in Borneo.
It is a common flower – 30,000 types of orchids are known to exist – and yet, it was rare enough to spark of the orchidelirium in the 1800’s.
The number of types of orchids is also surprising, given how challenging it is to pollinate. The separate stigma and anther common in other flowers is absent in the orchid, where they are fused together into a single, central column.
Besides the central column, what makes all orchids distinctive is that they have 3 bright, large sepals (the outer covering of flowers before they bloom) and 3 petals, one of which is called the lip of the orchid, that cups the column.
Orchids are a beautiful, intriguing flower, and are the perfect theme for a journey in India’s north-east.
The tropical, humid climate of the north-east region of India is ideal for orchids. There are 1700 species orchids in India; of these, 800 species of beautiful, ornamental and rare orchids are found in the north-eastern states.
A journey through Arunachal Pradesh (India’s orchid capital, with 600 species), Sikkim (450 species) and Meghalaya (300 species) is the perfect way to discover orchids. In the months of April – May, and Sept – Oct, lovely orchids can be found in bloom in the wild.
Orchids are treasured by the local population of the north-east. The Wanchu tribe in Arunachal Pradesh uses the Rangpu orchid to symbolize a place of sanctity. In Assam, the Kopou-phul orchid is used during Rongali Bihu festival as a decoration.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Sessa Orchid Sanctuary and Tipi Orchid Research Center are places to visit to see rare and beautiful orchids. In Sikkim, the Deorali Orchid Sanctuary and National Research Center for Orchids are they places to visit. Sikkim also plays host to the International Flower Festival that includes rare varieties of orchids and rhododendrons (next scheduled for 11th May 2013). In Meghalaya, the areas of Mawsmai, Mawmlu and Sohrarim are great for orchid-spotting and for caving.
Orchid lovers will surely be wooed by the variety and beauty of the orchids of north-east India, and even the casual tourist will come back from an orchid trip to the north-east quietly seduced by this beautiful, wonderous flower.
Contact us if you are interested in an orchid tour of north-east India.