Nun's Orchid
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Nun's Orchid
ative Photo: Pankaj Kumar
Common name: Nun's Orchid, Nun's Cap Orchid, Chinese Ground Orchid, Red Crane Orchid, Swamp lily, Veiled Nun Orch • Manipuri: ꯅꯣꯡꯄꯥꯢ ꯃꯅꯤ Nongmai mani
Botanical name: Phaius tankervilleae    Family: Orchidaceae (Orchid family)
Synonyms: Calanthe tankervilleae, Limodorum tancarvilleae

This magnificent species is a very wide spread terrestrial, being found along the eastern seaboard of Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Indo-China, Thailand and on into Northern India. The plant is a large one, with stout fleshy pseudobulbs, and several large pleated leaves. Inflorescence is a simple raceme which may attain 100cm in height, and bear up to 30 large (10cm) shapely blooms. The common name is explained by looking into the throat of the flower. One can see what appears to be a nun with head bowed in prayer. It is a species which has evolved as a bog dweller and it is always found in areas which are shady, and subject to flooding for a few months each year, remaining cool and moist for the rest of the year. The more than 4' long, erect, basal, racemose inflorescence, after blooming and the fall of the dead flowers, can be cut off and placed on sand in a long, plastic, plant flat and partially covered, put in a deep shaded, humid, well watered area and in 2 to 3 months, plantlets will begin to grow from the old floral bracts. After 6 months they can be transplanted into a pot.

Identification credit: Pankaj Kumar Photographed in Jharkhand & Sikkim.

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