In extremely rare cases, orchid plants produce flowers with all 3 petals of same size, shape and colour, instead of turning one into the otherwise modified form – the lip. These types of flowers are termed peloric.
Pelorism, the term for the formation of flowers that varies from its normal structure, was first described by Charles Darwin.
It is now more than a decade that I enjoy my days in the eastern Himalaya, mostly in the high mountains. In the range I work, the conditions are at its extreme, no matter if it is raining or winter. Very seldom I got the opportunity to be in foothills, especially in the winter days. This year pandemic brought me to the tropical zone, closeted in my camp house since the end of March.
Hence, for the first time in my orchid hunt days, I am enjoying the cooler days in the foothills. It is awesome, blanket or no blanket, running water or warm water, it is like hide and seek. Warm and chilly moments overlapping each other.
But, the afternoons are quite enchanting. After lunch, under the canopy floored blue sky, embracing the slanting sun rays, enjoying the old melodies of Isaignani Shri Ilayaraja, a short nap.
Heaven seems to have come down, courtesy lockdown!
Winter brings all sorts of fresh vegetables into the market. Cauliflower, cabbage, radish, carrot, many leafy vegetables etc., all from the farms of foothill Himalaya, hence organic (almost). I am fond of leafy vegetables, notably spinach (Palak).
Palak can be consumed raw as well as cooked. In the raw state it is with almost 90% of water content, hence having it during long treks helps in not getting dehydrated (carrying water is heavier than carrying Palak!).
On winter days, at least twice a week, our radio lingo communicates “Double P”, our code for Palak-Paneer. The combination is full of iron, calcium, Vitamin K, protein etc., and keeps the body warm also. I love it.
Spur is an extension of the lip, arising from its base, hence almost in all the cases it is of the same colour of the lip or of a lighter/darker version. However, there are a few species that produce spur with unusually bright colour that is entirely different from that of the colouration of the lip and also of other flower parts.
This is a highly evolutionary method adopted by orchid plants to attract pollinators.
An interesting and mostly unnoticed characteristic in orchid plants is the shape of its leaf apex (tip). It varies in shape and size – acuminate to subacuminate, bilobulate, cuspidate, mucronate, obtuse to rounded, tridenticulate, unequally bilobed etc.
The reason behind leaf apices attaining different shapes is a bit unknown and complicated, but the general theory is that the shape and size of leaf apices help leaves drain rainwater efficiently. Rapid removal of water droplets from its leaf surfaces is very important for plants to avoid damage.
Whatever the reason, the shape and size of leaf apices help a lot in identifying several species, while they are not in bloom.
With no orchid hunt, I am working on a group of winter visitors. Evening hours are in the open on the bank of a mighty river. I leave the field after the last set of birds flew back to their nesting location.
When I reach home, my body and my fridge have something in common – the °C factor. Then the homemade vegetable soup comes handy. A bit of all available vegetables in the kitchen, little ghee, pepper, vinegar, soya and tomato sauce.
Done………..then running the air conditioner, annoying my neighbour and those roosting pigeons.
Rarely in a few orchid species, due to their individual genetic disorders, plants produce white flowers, the Alba form, instead of their original colour. These are mainly due to the absence of pigments which define the flower colouration.
Generally, white colour dominates the whole flower parts, but there are instances that the white colour dominates only a certain area of the flower.
Epiphytic orchids attach themselves to the host tree with their basal roots. Those roots provide the plant with support as well as absorb nutrients.
However, there are a set of aerial (air) roots in certain orchid species. Aerial roots arise along the length of the stem. These extraordinary roots also help the plant absorb moisture and nutrients from the atmosphere, thus helping the plant with extra resources for its healthy growth.