Described by many as a botanists’ delight, the Nilgiris is reputed to be among the most important centres of plant speciation south of the Vindhyas and experts believe that there are a large number of plant species available in this district.
Though the Nilgiris is also known as the ‘native place for many rare and endemic orchids’, very few are aware of it and even knowledge about them and other forms of native flora is limited. As a result, awareness about this aspect of the Blue Mountains continues to be limited among the tourists.
Conservationists told The Hindu that out of about 22,000 to 25,000 species of orchids spread the world over, around 1,500 were reported to be in India. Of these, 200 odd were found in South India. Around 70 were endemic and many of them were in the Nilgiris. Among the rare orchids reported in the Nilgiris were C.glandulosa and C.uniflora.
Conservationist and Nature photographer P.J. Vasanthan said that contrary to the popular belief that the orchids could be found only in places such as Avalanchi and the well preserved shola forests such as the Mukurthi National Park they could be spotted even in arid areas of the Nilgiris. Some of them such as the checkered vanda are very beautiful and fill the air with fragrance. Hence it would not be difficult for the tourists to locate them. They grew on land, trees, decaying material and mossy rocks.
Some of the conservationists expressed the hope that in the 2013 Flower Show scheduled to be held at the Government Botanical Garden here from May 17 to 19, importance would be given to native flora.