Orchids

In ancient Rome, Theophrastus, a student of Plato, was intriqued by the sight of a plant with a pair of roots. Orchis was the name he gave them, the Greek word for testicles.

The world abounds with some 500 to 600 genera and some 20,000 to 35,000 names, the largest of all plant families, and out of this, Nepal has 57 genera (27 Terrestrials and 30 Epiphytic) with a few Lithophytes. Wide spread into different ecological zones, from the foot hills of the Himalayas to the plains in the Terai, the orchid-world in Nepal is immensely interesting for nature lovers and horticultural experts.

Some terrestrial orchids which flower during July-August have a stem with only two leaves and purple flowers; another orchid from the same genera in west Nepal flowers during February-March and is orange-green.

In March-April in Godavari there are orchids with greenish fragrant flowers, and in Shivapuri and Kakani orchids with white or pale yellow flowers. During September-October Sundarijal has green orchids streaked with purple, and on the way to Daman in November pale mauve orchids line the banks of the road. All of the above areas are accessible in a couple of hours or less from Kathmandu, with Dhankuta and Hetauda a little further away sporting yellow flowers, and in Khandbari purple-brown with pale borders.

Nepal is indeed endowed with an incredible variety of orchids scattered all over the Himalayan kingdom. Dedrobium is the largest species, followed by Habenaria and Bulbophyllum. Anthogonium, Hemipilia and Lusia are some of the other varieties amongst the nearly two dozen single species families.

No destination in Nepal is devoid of orchids including most of the trekking routes, and near Kathmandu the areas to visit are the Godavari Botanical Gardens to the south, Sundarijal to the north, Nagarjun to the west and Dhulikhel to the east. You will find orchids at one or more of these areas all year round.

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