Pinalia bractescens (Lindl) Kuntze.

Epiphyte. Pseudo-bulbs cylindric, closely arranged, minutely curved, slightly tapered to its apex. Bulbs are wrinkled during the flowering time. Leaves 3 to 5 from the apex of the bulb, 4 to 7 cm long and 1.5 to 3 cm in width, elliptic-oblong, tapering to its base. Racemes 2 to 4, arising from the axil of the leaves, peduncles sheathed. Flowers 4 to 5, 2 cm across. Sepals, petals, sheaths and its racemes are of an uniform yellow colour; the lamellae on the lip is orange red. Sepals sub-acute; the dorsal narrowly elliptic, arching over the lip; the lateral spreading, broader than the dorsal. Petals much shorter than the sepals, oblong and blunt. Lip oblong, widening towards its three lobed apex, lateral lobes erect, terminal entire and blunt, the apex deflexed. The disc with three glandular margined lamellae.

Eria bractescens, Lindl (Pinalia bractescens (Lindl) Kuntze
Eria bractescens Lindl (Pinalia bractescens (Lindl) Kuntze.)

The Pursuit

The rarest of the rare from the region The authors King and Pantling admitted its non-existence in the region. They took the reference from a couple of drawings made by Late Dr. Simons from specimens collected from Assam, another far away North East state. In the referral book the altitude of this species was mentioned as between 1000 and 3000 ft. I made a comparative study of tropical places of Assam and that of Sikkim-Himalayas and decided to search for this species from those locations. One note of the authors assisted in the further search of the species. They mentioned about another species Eria confusa, Hook as its nearest allied species. I was knowing the habitats of Eria confusa, Hook from the region and concentrated my search on the same habitats of it for this species. Thousands of trees from several square kilometers were searched for this species everyday. Every other day the journey was extending further east on the tropical zone. I came to know about an orchid lover of that locality who had devoted his life in conserving the local species. He was nice enough to accompany me to many locations and show me different species. But the wanted one was missing. With his advice, I shifted to a location near to a protected forest area of the region at a very low altitude. As the main railway line to the North East states passes through that area, everyday me and my team travelled half the way by train, which was cheaper and faster. Six days went off with no trace of this species. In between I found another 4 species which I haven’t got earlier, which compensated the huge financial logistics spend of this particular species. On the seventh day, a herd of wild elephants created havoc in the area and we were forced to move to another location which was around 2 km away from our actual planned search area for the day. I was very much disappointed while walking to the new location. After an hour of search I found three plants with so much similarities to this species. Cross checked with the referral books, it was almost the same. Made arrangements with a very responsible person of that area to visit the plant once in every five days and report to me over phone. He was kind enough to oblige responsibly. Finally after 23 days he reported sighting of racemes and I again visited the place to find 14 raceme all together. By the presence of the sheaths on each of its peduncles I understood this was the species I was looking for. It took another six days and two more visits to see those in bloom and produced this wonderful photograph. On the final day as we were waiting on the railway platform to catch our train back, the 12423 Dibrugarh-New Delhi down Rajdhani whistled pass there making my eyes wet. When ever I see the Delhi bound Rajdhani I go home sick!!!