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Orchids of Arunachal Pradesh- A New Species of Orchid Identified: Schoenorchis mishmensis

08 Dec,2022 05:28 PM, by: Posy Lui
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In another astounding finding, a new species of rare orchid was recently identified from the deep thickets of Arunachal Pradesh-The Orchid Paradise of India. The new species is named Schoenorchis mishmensis, deriving from the Mishmi Hills of Lower Dibang Valley District, Arunachal Pradesh, where it occurs. It was observed and identified as a new species by a team of researchers-K. CHOWLU from Botanical Survey of India, Arunachal Pradesh Regional Centre, Itanagar, Khyanjeet Gogoi & Pranab Mega from TOSEHIM, Regional Orchid Germplasm Conservation & Propagation Centre, Assam.

The unidentified type specimen of the plant belonging to genus Schoenorchis was collected from the tropical mixed evergreen forests of the Mishmi Hills in a vegetative state, in the year 2019 by Khyanjeet Gogoi while on a tour. The plant was cultivated at the Regional Orchid Germplasm Conservation and Propagation Centre in Tinsukia and kept under observation. It was only recently identified as a new orchid species after it took a whole 4 years to observe the orchid to finally bloom in 2022 from its initial sighting, indicating it to be distinct and rare from other existing 650 orchid species in the state. Researchers said, most orchids take a period of about a year to flower and fully bloom, and why the Schoenorchis mishmensis took 4 years to bloom will require another 10-15 years of intense research.

The scientists disclosed that morphologically, the recently discovered orchid is associated with Schoenorchis micrantha and S. brevirachis but what contrasts them are the size and shape of the plant with terete leaves, densely placed flowers, short inflorescence and lip, long zig-zag stem, V-shaped callus, mid-channel on the surface of mid lobe and raised subglobose callus on the disc, almost covering the spur. Researchers also noted that the Schoenorchis mishmensis can be found thriving on the tree trunks at an elevation of 900 metres in the Lower Dibang Valley district, Arunachal Pradesh and the species can be classified as critically endangered owing to its insignificant population and rarity. Scientists believe that there are only 7 known existing species of the genus Schoenorchis in India. And there is only a single population of Schoenorchis mishmensis from the region of Mishmi Hills (Arunachal Pradesh), comprising 20 individuals existing in an area of 4 sq km. A detailed study and description with taxonomic notes, colour photos and information has been published in the Phytotaxa journal.

Arunachal Pradesh - The Land of Dawnlit Mountains hides several secrets in the deep forests of its tall green mountains. More often than not, scientists are discovering rare and exotic findings in the wilderness of this hotspot; and with the latest discovery, the region will indefinitely attract more researchers in the unexplored land. Such findings of endemic and endangered species are the solutions to understanding, protecting and conserving nature.


To know more about the orchids that are found in Arunachal Pradesh, give a read to the series: Orchids of Arunachal part-1Orchids of Arunachal part-2Orchids of Arunachal part-3Orchids of Arunachal part-4Orchids of Arunachal part-5.


References: https://www.biotaxa.org/Phytotaxa/article/view/phytotaxa.575.1.7; The Dawnlit Post; EastMojo



Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of The Critical Script or its editor.

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