Orchids of Nepal

The orchid family is regarded as one of the largest, most diverse and distinctive families in the flowering plant kingdom with estimates of about 20,000 to 35,000 species in the world. They are found in wide array of ecological conditions, except in marine environments and habitats with extreme cold throughout the year. Environmental conditions associated with altitude exert a large influence on orchid species composition and their distribution. The plants are terrestrial, epiphytic, lithophytic and saprophytic in habitat. In Nepal, nearly 388 orchid’s species within 99 genera are reported.

Nepal (26°22′-30°27′N and 80°40′-88°12′E), in central Himalaya consists of five east-west running ranges: Terai, Siwaliks, Mahabharat, High mountains and High. Within this short distance, the elevation ranges from about 60 to 8848 m (highest peak of the world) comprising world’s one of the most dramatic ecological zones, from the tropical to arctic . Nepal therefore has a wide range of climatic conditions. However, the climatic conditions can be broadly divided into two types: dry winter period and wet summer period. The climatic condition is dominated by precipitation of the summer monsoon starting from south, Bay of Bengal. The amount and distribution of precipitation, the duration and altitudes of cloudiness varies considerably in different parts. The amount of rainfall gradually decreases from east to west, but increases from the plain to certain elevations between 800 to 2000m to the north and then again decreases.

Medicinal Orchids in Nepal
Orchids are well known not only for their ornamental value, but also for their uses in herbal medicine. The use of orchids as medicine has a very long history and the Chinese were the first to use them as herbal medicine. The presence of phytochemicals such as alkaloids, flavonoids, glycosides have made orchids valuable as medicine. In Nepal, studies on orchids are mainly focused on their documentation and on its medicinal uses but there is lack of quantitative study on their distribution pattern. At the same time, orchid species in Nepal are facing the greatest threat due to human encroachment, habitat loss, forest destruction and degradation.

Out of its 388 species of orchid in Nepal there are 82 species which are used as herbal medicine. Out of which, 33 are terrestrial (40%), 43 are epiphytes (53%). Maximum richness of medicinal orchids are found at an elevation of 1700m but, the maximum numbers of protected areas are located at an elevation of 3000 to 3500m. There is a negative correlation between number of protected areas and medicinal orchid species richness mentioning that the protected areas are less synchronized with medicinal orchids of Nepal.

 List of Medicinal Orchids in Nepal Altitudinal distribution (m)
1 Acampe praemorsa 200-1200
2 Aerides multiflora Roxb. 200-1100
3 Aerides odotata 200-1200
4 Anoectochilus setaceus 1000-1500
5 Arundina graminifolia 400-2300
6 Brachycorythis obcordata. 1000-2638
7 Bulbophyllum careyanum 600-2100
8 Bulbophyllum leopardinum 1500-3200
9 Bulbophyllum umbellatum 300-1800
10 Calanthe griffithii Lindl. 2200-2300
11 Calanthe plantaginea Lindl. 1500-2200
12 Calanthe sylvatica (Thouars) Lindl.
13 Coelogyne corymbosa Lindl. 1500-2900
14 Coelogyne cristata Lindl. 675-2450
15 Coelogyne flaccida Lindl. 900-1100
16 Coelogyne fuscescens Lindl. 1200-1830
17 Coelogyne nitida (Wall. ex. D. Don) Lindl.
18 Coelogyne ovalis Lindl. 500-2700
19 Coelogyne prolifera Lindl. 1000-2300
20 Coelogyne stricta (D. Don) Schltr. 1400 – 2135
21 Conchidium muscicola(Lindl.) Rauschert 1500-1800
22 Cymbidium alofolium (L.) Sw. 300-1600
23 Cymbidium devonianum Paxton 1500-1800
24 Cymbidium iridioides D.Don 1500-2800
25 Cymbidium longifolium D.Don 1500-3000
26 Cypripedium cordigerum D.Don 2800-3800
27 Cypripedium elegans Rchb.f. 2500-4200
28 Cypripedium himalaicum Rolfe 3000-4800
29 Dactylorhiza hatagirea (D.Don) Soó 2800-3960
30 Dendrobium amoenum Wall. ex Lindl. 1100-2900
31 Dendrobium crepidatum Lindl. & Paxton 1200-2400
32 Dendrobium densiflorum Lindl. 900-2900
33 Dendrobium fimbriatum Hook. 200-2135
34 Dendrobium longicornu Lindl. 1300-2900
35 Dendrobium monticola P.F.Hunt & Summerh. 1525-2700
36 Dendrobium moschatum (Buch.-Ham.) Sw. 200-1200
37 Dendrobium nobile Lindl. 400-1500
38 Dendrobium transparens Wall. ex Lindl. 700-2000
39 Ephemerantha macraei (Lindl.) 500-2400
40 Epipactis gigantea 2900-3200
41 Epipactis helleborine 1500-3300
42 Epipactis royleana Lindl. 1400-3400
43 Eria spicata 900-2200
44 Eulophia comestrs
45 Eulophia dabia (D.Don) 400-2000
46 Eulophia spectabilis (Dennst.) 400-1800
47 Flickingeria fimbriata (Blume) A.D.Hawkes
48 Flickingeria macraei (Lindl.)
49 Gymnadenia conopsea
50 Gymnadenia orchidis Lindl. 1352-4700
51 Habenaria commelinifolia (Roxb.) .300-1200
52 Habenaria furcifera Lindl. 150-800
53 Habenaria intermedia D.Don 1800-3300
54 Liparis nervosa (Thunb.) Lindl. 1200-2800
55 Liparis rostrata Rchb.f. 2000-3000
56 Luisia trichorrhiza (Hook.) Blume 1000-1400
57 Luisia tristis (G.Forst.) Hook.f. 300-2300
58 Malaxis acuminata D.Don 450-3050
59 Malaxis cylindrostachya (Lindl.) Kuntze 2100-3500
60 Malaxis muscifera (Lindl.) Kuntze 2000-4100
61 Nervilia aragoana Gaudich. 500-1300
62 Oberonia caulescens Lindl. 1300-2400
63 Orchis latifolia Linn.*)
64 Otochilus porrectus Lindl. 900-2300
65 Papilionanthe teres (Roxb.) 200-2100
66 Pholidota articulata Lindl. 570-2285
67 Pholidota imbricata Lindl. 600-2900
68 Platanthera sikkimensis 2600-2900
69 Pleione humilis (Sm.) D.Don 1800-3000
70 Pleione maculata (Lindl.) 1400-2700
71 Pleione praecox (Sm.) 1500-2500
72 Ponerorchis chusua (D.Don) 2400-4900
73 Rhynchostylis retusa (L.) 300-1850
74 Satyrium nepalense 600-4600
75 Smitinandia micrantha (Lindl.) 500-1400
76 Spiranthes sinensis (Pers.) 150-4600
77 Thunia alba (Lindl.) 500-1800
78 Trudelia praviflora* 350-915
79 Vanda cristata Wall. 620-2300
80 Vanda tessellata (Roxb.)
81 Vanda testacea (Lindl.)
82 Zeuxine strateumatica (L.)

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