Bulbophyllum picturatum – a rare and less known orchid recollected from Mizoram, Northeast India

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Samiran Panday1, Durgesh Verma2, S.K. Singh2* & B.K. Sinha3

1Botanical Survey of India, Central National Herbarium, Howrah -711103

2Botanical Survey of India, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong -793003

3Botanical Survey of India, Industrial Section, Indian Museum, Kolkata -700016

samicnh@gmail.com; durgesh.kv@gmail.com; sksbsinc@rediffmail.com; drbks2004@yahoo.co.in

*Corresponding author: S.K. Singh, email: sksbsinc@rediffmail.com


Bulbophyllum picturatum (G. Lodd.) Rchb.f., a rare orchid species has been recollected after a period of 86 years from Mizoram, India. A detailed taxonomic description along with photographic illustration is provided to facilitate its easy identification.

Keywords Recollection, Bulbophyllum picturatum, Mizoram.


Bulbophyllum Thouars is the largest genera of family Orchidaceae, comprising about 1900 species, largely distributed in tropical areas of both new and old worlds (Chen & Vermeulen, 2009). In India the genus is represented by c. 100 species (Misra, 2007). There are about 73 species and 3 varieties in Northeast India of which 18 species are reported from the state of Mizoram (Rao, 2007; Kumar & Singh, 2012).

Bulbophyllum picturatum is treated under section Cirrhopetalum. It was originally described by British horticulturist George Loddiges (Loddiges, 1840) from Myanmar (erstwhile Burma) in Edward’s Botanical Register as Cirrhopetalum picturatum, which was later transferred to genus Bulbophyllum by Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach (Reichenbach, 1861). That present state of our knowledge of this species is so far known from SW Yunnan (China), Lower Shan states & Moulmein (Myanmar), Loung Kte Houong, Ban Huay Hom, Mae Sarieng (Thailand), Langbian, Dalat, Prenn (Vietnam) and Mizoram (formerly Lushai hills, India). As far as the Indian report is concerned, Cecil Ernest Claude Fischer (Fischer, 1938) reported this species based on collection made by Mrs. Parry from Khawlkul, Lushai hills (a part of erstwhile Assam) during 1924-28, deposited in Kew. Thereafter no record is available either from Mizoram or any other States of India. Thus, it is worthwhile to mention that this species is extremely rare in our country and confined only in state of Mizoram (see also Rao, 2007). The report from Assam by Augustine et al. (2001) is referable to erstwhile undivided Assam of present day Mizoram only. It is interesting to note that present report corroborates the plant material available in any Indian herbaria for the first time and also that it has been recollected after a lapse of 86 years from any Indian region.

During a field exploration tour to Phawngpui National Park, Lawngtlai district, Mizoram during December 2012, it was collected in vegetative condition which flowered under cultivation in April, 2013. Critical study of literature revealed its identity as B. picturatum (G. Lodd.) Rchb.f. The taxonomic description and other details are as below:


Bulbophyllum picturatum (G. Lodd.) Rchb.f., Ann. Bot. Syst. 6: 262. 1861; Seidenf., Dansk Bot. Arkiv. 1979; Chen & Vermeulen in Wu et al., Fl. China 25: 430. 2009; Cirrhopetalum picturatum G. Lodd., Edwards’s Bot. Reg. 26: 49. 1840; C.E.C. Fisch., Rec. Bot. Surv. India 12 (2): 136. 1938; Hook.f., Fl. Brit. India 5: 774. 1890.

Epiphyte. Rhizome creeping, 5 – 8 mm thick, membranous sheathed. Pseudobulbs 2.8 – 4.4 × 1.8 – 2.6 cm, ovoid, wrinkled & ribbed. Leaf solitary, elliptic or elliptic-oblong, 10 – 16 × 2.0 – 2.8 cm, coriaceous, base attenuate, apex obtuse or retuse, green; petiole 1.5 – 2.1 cm long. Scape from the base of psuedobulbs, erect, 9 – 13 cm; umbel with 3 – 8 pedicellate flowers; peduncle with 3 – 5 tubular sheathing bracts; floral bracts lanceolate, 5.5 – 6.0 × 1.0 – 1.2 mm, creamy white. Pedicellate ovary 1.5 – 1.6 cm. Flowers 2.8 – 3.2 cm long, dull yellowish red. Dorsal sepal elliptic with broader base, concave, 6 – 7 × 4 – 5 mm, apex acute with 6 – 7 mm long clavate thread, dull yellow tinged with dark purple. Lateral sepals ovate-triangular, convergent, 25 – 28 × 4 – 5 mm, base adnate to column foot, dull yellowish finely spotted with purple. Petals elliptic-ovate, concave, 4.0 – 5.0 × 2.5 – 3.0 mm, apex caudate with a 1.0 – 1.5 mm thread, margins finely erose, dark purple spotted with creamy yellow. Lip recurved, fleshy, ovate-oblong, 4.0 – 4.5 × 2.0 – 2.8 mm, apex obtuse, adaxially with 2 ridges, dark purple. Column 2.7 – 2.9 mm; foot 2.7 – 2.8 mm; stelidia triangular, acute, with small tooth along upper margin, c. 1.2 mm. Anther cap c. 1.2 × 0.9 mm, toothed at apex. Pollinia 4, creamy yellow.

Flowering: April – May.

Distribution: India (Mizoram); China (SW Yunnan); Myanmar (Lower Shan states & Moulmein); Thailand (Loung Kte Houong, Ban Huay Hom,  Mae Sarieng) and Vietnam (Langbian, Dalat, Prenn).

Specimen examined:Phawngpui National Park area, Vawmbuk, 22° 36‘ 17 .0“ N & 93° 04‘ 42.7“ E, 1282 m, 28.11.2012. Samiran Panday  29316 (flowered on 8 – 14.04.2013).

Conservation status: The species is rare and was found in subtropical evergreen forest, growing on the tree trunks of Castanopsis indica. This species is also listed in the CITES Appendix II by the World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP WCMC 2003).


Authors are grateful to Director, Botanical Survey of India, Kolkata and to H.O.O, BSI, Eastern Regional Centre, Shillong for facilities and encouragements and to the officials of Forest Department of Mizoram for rendering the logistic support during field exploration.


Augustine, J., Kumar, Y. and Sharma, J. 2001. Orchids of India-II: Biodiversity and status of Bulbophyllum Thou. Daya Publishing House, Delhi, pp. 43.

Chen, X. and Vermeulen, J. J. 2009. Bulbophyllum Thouars. In: Wu, Z. -G., Raven, P. & Hong, D.-Y. (Eds.) Flora of China vol. 25. Science Press, Beijing & Missouri Botanic Garden Press, St. Louis, USA, pp. 404 – 440.

Fischer, C.E.C. 1938. The Flora of Lushai hills. Records of the Botanical Survey of India 12(2): 75 – 161.

Kumar, R. and Singh, S.K. 2012. Ex situ conservation of orchids from Murlen National Park, Champhai, Mizoram. Keanean Journal of Science 1: 6 – 12.

Loddiges, G. 1840. Cirrhopetalum picturatum. In: Lindley, J. (Eds.) Edwards’s Botanical Register vol. 26. James Ridgway, London, pp. 49.

Misra, S. 2007. Orchids of India: A glimpse. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehra Dun, pp. 402.

Rao, A.N. 2007. Orchid flora of North East India – An up to date analysis. Bulletin of Arunachal Forest Research 23 (1&2): 6 – 38.

Reichenbach, H.G. 1861 Bulbophyllum. In: Mueller, C. (Ed.) Synopsis plantarum phanerogamicarum. Annales Botanices Systematicae 6: 262.

UNEP WCMC 2003. Checklist of CITES Species. UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, pp. 339.

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