Getting lured into the world of Orchids! By Sashidhar Sastry

Getting lured into the world of Orchids!

By Sashidhar Sastry

Hi Folks,

Before you read this blog, have my introduction please! I am Shashidhar Sastry, and was a forester by profession and spent some memorable years in Nagaland (NE India). Wonderful scenic beauty with rolling mountains and enchanting valleys and come monsoon, mini falls everywhere, indeed, it was really wild when I joined there in the year 1983, the state is worthy of a tourist destination, which I am happy is picking up now. I went there as an officer of Indian Forest Service in the year 1983, and that was also my first visit to the state! In the year 1984, I was undergoing Range training in Rangapahar Range (It was a Reserve Forest then and now it is a wildlife sanctuary & Zoological park)) at Dimapur. I stayed in the guest house (Picture 1) and one morning when I woke up (it must be May -June) and went out, I saw lots of colorful small objects on all over the tree branches. When I enquired with my Deputy, I got the answer in Nagamese (local language) ‘yetu phool ase saab” (it is a flower sir). I was more thaninterested and keen to unravel the mystery of this flower! to my surprise when I plucked the flower, it was a beautiful large flower of Vanda teres (Now Papilionanthe teres – picture 2), perhaps it is the size of the flower that attracted me to explore further. I took couple of plants to my residence along with few more Dendrobium species, I suppose, whether it survived or not is a different issue (you have to give me a margin as it was my first attempt), But the ‘Orchid bug’ has already bit me and from then onwards no looking back, it was orchids, orchids and more orchids, only I do not divulge to my wife how much I spent on orchids every month, I am sure many of us don’t. With this background, let us look where I stand now as far as orchids are concerned. Over these three decades, my ever growing passion has resulted in the orchid growing hobby taking away all the time, no regrets here!!! What started off with mainly North East species has spread to species from other parts of the country and then from other countries.


Picture 1.                                                                                        Picture 2. 


Picture 3.                 Picture 4.

Of all the orchids, Dendrobiums always attracted me a lot. I am not sure why? besides its variation in size, shape and colors, may be it is still common Orchid in NE. Hence, let us talk about Dendrobiums, one of the largest genera among the family Orchidaceae. Before that, let us see someinteresting but basic information about orchids in general. There are about 26, 567 species of orchids under 880 genera distributed all over the world  except glaciers highlighting its diversity. Most of it from tropical Asia, America and Africa. Flowers are the most attractive aspect about orchids, except Vanilla planifolia (Picture 3) being used commercially for extracting the essence.


Picture 5.                                                                      Picture 6.

Coming to Dendrobiums which always catches’ everybody’ attention. Let us first talk about species, especially the ones from NE India are so wonderful and amazing (Picture 4). Most of the Dendrobiums are relatively easy to grow, if you are in hot and humid places like Mangalore or Chennai or in cooler and high altitudes like Madikeri youcan conveniently grow them. Plants come in different sizes, some are miniatures and some are huge and pendulous. Some shed their leaves during winter (Picture 5) and others remain evergreen, with this variation, you must be wondering definitely life is not going to be easy to grow these orchids! Trust me, if you initially take care and once it settles in your growing yard, it is far easier than talking about it. Come the flowering season you will see wonderful blooms. We have some fantastic Dendrobiums from North East – nature artistry at its best (Picture 6). Out of the 1400 species of Dendrobiums world over, India has about 70 species. Some of the NE species are ornamentally captivating. You have seen the most attractive D. densiflorums, thyrsiflorums, chrysotoxums, devonianum and many others.

Let us continue with Dendrobium culture in the next blog.

Happy Orchid growing till then.

Posted in Hear from the experts

Published on 25/04/2016 12:47:58
  • Comments ( 3 )
Renu vinitia cooper

2016-07-04 08:52:39

Dendrobium Very informative information.


2016-04-30 10:17:41

Delightful read, Shashiji.

Gayatri Rao

2016-04-25 09:02:33

Very interesting article & beautiful pictures. Waiting for the continuation............:)

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