The flowers command a good price in both domestic and international markets

Orchids are beautiful flowering plants which are found only in the humid hilly terrain. In some parts of Kerala, Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh a species of orchid is cultivated for production of vanilla flavour. In the Eastern Ghats tribal medicine men cultivate orchids for use in traditional medicine, principal of Dr VS Krishna Government Degree and PG College JVVSN Murthy said.

“Orchids are very sensitive to atmospheric changes and require a clean atmosphere. Due to widespread pollution the orchids are fast becoming extinct,” the principal of the college said and explained the need for artificial propagation of the plant. Orchids are also in great demand by florists for their beautiful and brilliant flowers.

These flowers command a good price in both domestic as well as international market, M. Rama Murty of the Dolphin Nature Conservation Society noted. A team from the Department of Biotechnology of the college is carrying out research to develop the protocols for artificial propagation, including tissue culture, on five species, including two species Cymbidium aloifolium and Eulophia epidendraea collected from the Chintapalli forests in the district.

The project, which started this academic year, has two research scholars, B. Radhika and D. Prashanti, working on the project. By the end of the project they expect to be able to gather sufficient information on all the species endemic to the Eastern Ghats, Dr. Murthy said. “Work is on to establish the protocols for tissue culture propagation and we are using four different types of media of different strengths for the tissue culture,” Ms. Radhika explained.

The orchids require three to four years to grow in natural surroundings. The project expects to be able to grow a full plant in less than a year, Head of Department of Biotechnology S. Hara Sreeramulu said. The orchids can be identified only during their flowering season, the spring season, rest of the time they cannot be distinguished from other plants in the surroundings, he added.

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