Himalayan Marsh Orchid
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Himalayan Marsh Orchid
ative Photo: Thingnam Girija
Common name: Himalayan Marsh Orchid, Marsh Orchis, Spotted Heart Orchid • Kumaon: Hatajari • Kashmiri: Salem Panja • Ladakhi: ཨམབོལཀཔཨ Ambolakpa • Urdu: Salap • Nepali: पाँच आँवले Panch aonle
Botanical name: Dactylorhiza hatagirea    Family: Orchidaceae (Orchid family)
Synonyms: Orchis latifolia var. indica

Himalayan Marsh Orchid is a medicinal herb which is now considered critically endangered. It is a perennial herb with erect, leafy, stout and hollow stem. Leaves are oblong-lance-shaped, with sheathing base. Pink purple flowers are borne in an upright spike. Flowers are purple and the bracts green, narrowly lance-shaped, lower longer than the flowers, upper slightly shorter. Flowers are about 1.8 cm long, including the curved spur. Sepals and petals are nearly equal. Three of them form a hood, and the two side sepals spread outwards. The lip is rounded and shallowly 3-lobed, spotted dark purple. Marsh Orchis is found in shrubberies, open slopes and marshes, in the Himalayas, from Pakistan to SE Tibet, at altitudes of 2800-4000 m. Flowering: June-July. Roots are tuberous, divided into 2 or 3 lobes.
Medicinal uses: The tuber yields salap and is reputed as expectorant, aphrobisiac and as nervine tonic. Locally it is used as a nervine tonic and aphrodisiac.

Identification credit: Tabish Photographed in Valley of Flowers, Uttarakhand.

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