Notes on two interesting and less known orchids of Meghalaya

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Samiran Panday1, S.K. Singh2*, Ramesh Kumar2, B.K. Sinha2

1Botanical Survey of India, Industrial Section Indian Museum, Kolkata-700016

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

*Corresponding author: S.K. Singh, email:


Two less known orchid species viz., Phalaenopsis deliciosa Rchb.f. (new record for Meghalaya) and Porpax gigantea N.C. Deori are reported and described.

Keywords Meghalaya, Rare, Phalaenopsis, Porpax, Orchid.


Orchidaceae is second largest family of flowering plants with c. 779 genera and 22,500 species in the world (Mabberly, 2008). Majority of the species are natives of the tropical regions with preponderance in humid tropical forests. In India, the family is represented by 1331 species under 186 genera (Misra, 2007; Chowdhery, 2009). Out of these c. 860 species occur in North-east India (Chowdhery, 2009). Meghalaya is one of the well explored states in North-east India as far the family Orchidaceae is concerned. The state harbours c. 430-436 taxa. Due to increasing human activities like coal mining, deforestation, urbanisation etc. many plant species including orchids are facing threat at alarming rate and their population decreasing gradually in the State.

During the studies on the documentation of the flora of Meghalaya, authors came across two interesting species of Orchids viz., Porpax gigantea N.C. Deori collected from Jaintia hills and Phalaenopsis deliciosa Rchb.f. from Garo Hills in Meghalaya. It is interesting to note that Porpax gigantea have been collected in India from its type locality again, while the latter is an addition to the flora of Meghalaya, earlier known from the adjoining state of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Both the species are very rare in distribution and facing serious threat in nature as their habitat is in dwindling state due to mining activities.

Porpax gigantea N.C. Deori in Bull. Bot. Surv. India 17: 173. 1975. (Figure 1a & b).

Epiphytes. Pseudobulbs depressed, crowded, loosely reticulate. Leaves 2.5 – 5.5 × 1.3 – 3.5 cm, sessile, broadly obovate, shining silvery hairs on both surfaces, imbricate at the base, midrib depressed above, prominent beneath, sheathed at base; sheaths 3 imbricating, membranous, obovate margins ciliate; scape between the leaves, 5 mm long, scarfy hirsute; bracts 5 – 7 × 2 – 4 mm ovate, apiculate, 1- nerved, much longer than the pedicillate ovary, margins ciliate, midrib prominent and hairy beneath. Flowers 2, subsessile, reddish brown, hispid outside, glabrous within; sepaline tube 14 – 17 × 9 – 11 mm, 2 lipped; sepals united almost near the saccate base, apices mucronate; petals 10 – 12 × 5 – 6 mm, red, smooth and glabrous outer surface, inner rugose, obliquely spathulate, acuminate, 3 veined with vein-lets, lateral margin near the middle in rolled to form slipper shaped in situ, softly attached to the tube near the base. Lip 4 mm long in situ, falcate 3-lobed, yellow, attached to the incurved foot of the coloumn by a short claw, sidelobes of lip with laciniate edges, midlobe hairy oblong, truncate. Column short, broad; anther tuberculate, 2-celled purple at gibbous apex, rest yellow; pollinia 8, all equal, yellow free, 4 in each cell; stipe short, gland minute; pedicel white 3 – 4 mm long including ovary; ovary hispidulous; capsule young, villous.

Flowering & Fruiting: June – July.

Distribution: N.E. India: Meghalaya, Thailand (?).

Specimen examined: Meghalaya, Jarain-Dawki Road, Epiphytic, 09.06.2011, Samiran Panday 104007; Jarain, Epiphytic, 01.07.1973, N.C. Deori 51757 B (Isotype: ASSAM!).

Note: Scrutiny of the herbarium and literature reveals that this species could not be collected further from the same locality or elsewhere, though the area has been thoroughly explored botanically. However, this species is also reported from Thailand (see Govaerts et al., 2013), but it needs verification. This species is very rare in its natural home and found only in restricted pockets there. Considering its rare distribution, the live plants were brought and transplanted in the Experimental Botanic Garden, BSI ERC Shillong for ex situ conservation. The plants of this species is the largest among all the hitherto known species of the genus Porpax and clearly distinct by its broad leaves with shining silvery hairs on both the surfaces and reddish- brown flowers (Figure.1 a & b). It is closely allied to P. jerdoniana (Rchb. f.) Rolfe – a species known from Kerala, Maharastra, Tamil Nadu in India and Sri Lanka, Thailand (Deori, 1975), but the latter differs in having white tessellation on deep green leaves, more number of dirty orange brown and almost tomentose, small flowers (Santapau & Kapadia, 1963).

Phalaenopsis deliciosa Rchb. f. in Bonplandia 2: 93. 1854. Kingidium deliciosum (Rchb. f.) Sweet, Amer. Orchid Soc. Bull. 39: 1095. 1970; Hegde, Orchids of Arunachal Pradesh 75.1984. (Figure.1 d & e).

Epiphytic herb. Stems 10 mm long, forming large tortuous tufts. Leaves 7.5 – 15.5 × 3.5 cm, few, obovateoblong, obtuse or subacute, sessile, rather thin textured. Inflorescence 1 to several, simple or branched, suberect; peduncle 6 – 12 cm long, slender, deep green; rachis hardly thickened; floral bracts small, triangular, lanceolate, persisting, pale green. Flowers small, c. 20 mm across, resupinate, pale yellow or cream coloured. Sepals spreading, unequal, 5 veined; dorsal sepal c. 9.5 × 3 mm, narrowly elliptic-oblong; lateral sepals falcately oblong-ovate, obtuse, c. 8 × 4.5 mm, lower margin reflexed. Petals 7 × 3 mm, obliquely oblong, truncately rounded. Lip sessile, 3-lobed, c. 8 × 8 mm; lateral lobes erect, obliquely cuneate, crenate; column stout, erect, oblong, c. 5.4 × 2.3 mm, shortly winged, pink along the inner edge. Stigma orbicular, c. 2 mm across; rostellum beak shaped, c. 0.5 mm long. Another terminal, on the front, depressed, light yellow, c. 1.5 × 1.5 mm, broadly ovate truncate; pollinia globular-ovoid, c. 0.9 × 0.7 mm. Capsule oblong, c. 40 mm long, 8 mm thick, ribbed, pedicel c. 12 mm long.

Flowering & Fruiting: May –November.

Distribution: India: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, (Meghalaya – Present record), Odisha, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal; Indian Subcontinent to China (S. Yunnan) and Malesia

Specimen examined: Meghalaya, Garo Hills, Balpakram National Park, Epiphytic, 09.06.2011, Ramesh Kumar 104006 (ASSAM).

Note: This species is known to occur from Kerala, Orissa, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam (Hegde, 1984; Phukan, 2002; Misra, 2004; Lucksom, 2007). This species has been recorded for the first time from the state of Meghalaya. Phalaenopsis deliciosum resembles with Phalaenopsis taenialis (Lindl.) Christenson & Pradhan, apparently but differs by having oblong-oblanceolate leaves, yellowish flowers and lip with short wide spur (Figure.1 d & e.) while the latter have pinkish flower, narrowly elliptic oblong leaves and lip with a longer sub-cylindric spur (Figure.1c).


Authors are thankful to the Director, BSI, Kolkata for facilities and encouragement.


Chowdhery, H. J. 2009. Orchid Diversity In North-Eastern States of India The Journal of the Orchid Society of India 23: 19-42.

Deori, N.C. 1975. A new species and the notes on the genus Porpax Lindl. in India. The Bulletin of the Botanical Survey of India 17: 173.

Govaerts, R., Dransfield, J., Zona, S.F, Hodel, D.R. and Henderson, A. 2013. World Checklist of Orchidaceae. Facilitated by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Published on the Internet; Retrieved 2013-11-18.

Hegde, S.N. 1984. Orchids of Arunachal Pradesh. N.K. Gossain & Co. Pvt. Ltd. Calcutta pp. 75.

Lucksom, S.Z. 2007. The orchids of Sikkim and North East Himalaya. p. 873. Spectrum House, Siliguri.

Mabberley, D.J. 2008. Mabberley’s Plant-book, A Portable Dictionary of Plants, their Classifications and Uses. 3rd Edition. University of Washington Botanic Gardens, Seattle.

Phukan, S. 2002. The genus Kingidium Hunt in India. The Journal of the Orchid Society of India 16: 47-54.

Misra, S. 2004. Orchids of Orissa. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehradun.

Misra, S. 2007. Orchids of India: A Glimpse. Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh, Dehradun.

Santapau, H. and Kapadia, Z. 1963. Orchids of Bombay. The Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 58: 603-607.

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