Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Petal-less orchid.

Each plant family has its own characteristics. Knowing a few of those will help in identifying each family and even the species. But, following the unique features of flowers of each family helps in zeroing the identity much easier. For example, Asteraceae with rings of sepals, petals, stamens and pistil in order; Convolvulaceae with a star pattern on its corolla; Liliaceae with all flower parts in multiples of threes. 

In orchids, 3 sepals, 3 petals with one of them modified as lip, the unique column and the not so common presence of spur.

However, there are a few orchid species that defy the general rule – Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr., is an example. Its flower is without any petals, and with 2 spurs.

The solitary flower of the plant is with unequal sepals – helmet shaped dorsal sepal, filiform (very narrow) shaped lateral ones, and a large lip. 

The genus Corybas is also known as Helmet orchids due to its unique shaped dorsal sepal.

Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr., is the only species in the genus Corybas found in India. 

Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr.
Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr.
Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr.
Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr.

Post 50 – 17/January/2021.

Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Orchid tubers.

Terrestrial orchids are either rhizomatous or with tuber/s. Tubers play the role of food reserves and in many species new growths arise from it. Tubers are of different sizes and shapes. The surface of tubers are also unique, some are smooth but others are hairy, or even noded.

Tubers of many orchid species are collected because of their medicinal values.

The Ancient Romans used ground orchid tubers to make various drinks. Sahlep (or Salep) is a flour made from the tubers of orchid plants (in the genus Orchis) and considered highly nutritious and is consumed in beverages and desserts.

Gastrodia sp.
Platanthera sp.
Platanthera sp.
Gastrodia sp.

Post 49 – 14/January/2021.

Winter Narratives by Naresh Swami – Grey skies and white slopes.

In the foothills it is blue skies and yellow fields. Meanwhile, in the high hills it is grey skies and white slopes.

The slope was covered in pine trees, a cloud burst followed by sudden gush in waters cleared the slope in a few seconds and dumped debris from high mountains creating a frightening look. Fresh snow changed it into a beautiful sight. 

Post 9 – 12/Jan/2020.

Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Solitary flower.

In general, inflorescence of orchid plants bear multiple flowers. Many species produce multiple inflorescences, thus with a large number of flowers. More the flowers, more the chances of getting pollinated and seed production.

However, there are many species that produce a solitary flower. In these cases, the plants have evolved to produce large and showy flowers or flowers with odour to attract pollinators. 

Panisea sp.
Paphiopedilum sp.
Cypripedium sp.
Diplomeris sp.

Post 48 – 11/January/2021.

Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Flower opening patterns.

It is to be believed that the family of Orchidaceae is the most evolved among all plant families. The life of many orchid plants is a mystery and many characteristics are still not yet fully studied.

One of those interesting characteristics is the flower opening patterns among various species. Flowers tend to open from the basal (bottom) toward the distal (apex) end in some species and vice versa in the others.

Odontochilus sp.
Rhomboda sp.
Rhynchostylis sp.
Oberonia sp.

Post 47 – 08/January/2021.

Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Hidden colour patterns.

Flower characteristics are mainly to attract pollinators. Important and noticeable features include colouration of sepals and petals, position of the lip and odour (only in a few species). 

However, many orchid species have evolved to great extent in having hidden or unnoticeable features (to human eyes) like colour patterns/spots on its anther cap and base of the lip to allure the pollinators deep inside the flowers to make effective pollination.

Dendrobium sp.
Goodyera sp.

Post 46 – 05/January/2021.

Winter Narratives by Naresh Swami – The white blanket.

I am very much convinced to say that this is one of my favourite photographs, taken long back in the year 2011. 

The landscape of the Himalaya changes dramatically with seasons and this photograph shows the real essence of what winter is. With the entire region under white blanket, for me it’s time to go home. 

The countdown has begun.

North Sikkim.

Post 7 – 04/Jan/2020.

Orchid Lessons by Naresh Swami – Synsepal.

Almost all the orchid flowers are zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical), in simple meaning, a flower that can be divided into 2 equal parts by cutting through the middle.

In all the cases the sepals and petals are spreading or rarely arranged forward. However, in a few species the lateral sepals of the flowers are not spreading, but are joined and lying underneath the lip. Joined or fused sepals are termed synsepal.

Arundina sp.
Arundina sp.
Paphiopedilum sp.
Paphiopedilum sp.
Paphiopedilum sp.

Post 45 – 02/January/2021