Arachnis labrosa var. labrosa.

Epiphytic. Stems woody, long about 2 to 3 feet, pendulous. Leaves coriaceous, keeled, unequally bilobed, 10 to 15 cm long. Raceme long as the leaves. The peduncle and rachis slender. Flowers arranged in distance of 2 to 3 cm, floral bract broad. Sepals unequal, oblong to oblanceolate, blunt. Petals smaller than the sepals, oblong and acute. Lip shorter than the petals, shortly clawed, the blunt apex with a large papilla. Spur recurved, blunt and cylindric between the papilla and the base. Sepal and petals are yellow with dark brown markings. The lip yellow has dark pink lines and auricles with bright pink blotches.

Arachnis labrosa var. labrosa
Arachnis labrosa var. labrosa

The Pursuit

After Sir George King and Robert Pantling described this species in their monumental work, “The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas”, published in the year 1898, several publications came up with the descriptions of this species. However, no photographs were made available by any of the other authors, pointing to the conclusion that this plant was not located by anyone from the wild. Hence, I put extra efforts to locate this plant. Sir George King and Robert Pantling mentioned their find from “Bhotan near the Sikkim frontier in the Rumpti Valley at a low elevations”, prompted me to survey low altitude areas of the region in the early monsoon days. After several weeks only, a couple of plants with much similarity to the descriptions of Sir George King and Robert Pantling were found. However, it took another three months to confirm (by theoretical research) the same as Arachnis labrosa var. labrosa, by that time it bloomed thus confirming my efforts. Thus able to document the species for the first time in flower from the region.

 

 

 

Corybas himalaicus (King & Pantl.) Schltr

A small plant of the height 4 to 5 cm. Stem glabrous, with a single sheath near its base. Leaves solitary, 1 to 1.5 cm long, sessile, just under the flower, green with many white nerves. Flower solitary, dorsal sepal blunt, concave, arching over the column and the basal half of the lip, lateral pair short, filiform, lying between the two spurs of the lip. Petals none. Lip oblong, longer than the dorsal sepal, the basal portion convolute, with two short cylindric straight spurs at the base.

This species is the only orchid with no petals from the region of Sikkim-Himalayas.

Corysanthes himalaica, King and Pantling (Corybas himalaicus, King and Pantling (Schltr))
Corysanthes himalaica, King and Pantling (Corybas himalaicus, King and Panting (Schltr))

The Pursuit

Sir George King and Robert Pantling in their monumental work, “The Orchids of the Sikkim-Himalayas”, published in the year 1898, described this plant. They found it from Lam-teng in the Lachen Valley at an altitude of 9000 ft, from a vertical moist rock. Part of my research work, I surveyed all the areas of Lam-teng, which is mostly of very difficult terrain, with high rocky mountains on one side of the river and dense forests on the other. The mention of “moist vertical rock” by Sir George King and Robert Pantling made me search and survey all the vertical rocks especially those on the banks of the river. After a search of 18 days, I finally found the plant from a moist vertical rock itself, probably the same place from where Sir George King and Robert Pantling found it some 125 years ago!!!!!