Splendid Short-Helmet Orchid
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Splendid Short-Helmet Orchid
P Native Photo: S.Thangaraj Panneerselvam
Common name: Splendid Short-Helmet Orchid, Splendid Brachycorythis
Botanical name: Brachycorythis splendida    Family: Orchidaceae (Orchid family)
Synonyms: Phyllomphax splendida, Phyllomphax obcordata var. iantha

Splendid Short-Helmet Orchid is a critically endangered terrestrial orchid, rarely growing on trees too. The generic name comes from the Greek brachys "short" and korythos "helmet", alluding to the hood-shaped lip in the flowers of these orchids. Leaves are 3-3.5 x 1.5-2 cm, ovate-lanceshaped, pointed, closely set. Pink flowers are eye-catching, 3 x 2 cm, in 5-10 cm long racemes at branch-ends. Bracts are leaf-like, 1.5-1.7 x 1.0-1.2 cm, ovate, tapering; dorsal sepal and petals fused to form a hood. This hood look like a helmet, inspiring the common name. Dorsal sepal is 8 x 4.5 mm, ovate, pointed, 3-veined; lateral sepals 10 x 4.5 mm, obliquely ovate-lanceshaped, pointed, 4-veined; petals 8 x 2.5 mm, curved-linear, tapering, 3-veined; lip 23 x 16 mm, inverted-heart-shaped, with a triangular apiculus. Splendid Short-Helmet Orchid is endemic to Southern Western Ghats. Flowering: July-August.

Identification credit: P.S. Sivaprasad Photographed in Akkamalai Grass Hills, Anamalai Tiger Reserve, Distt. Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.

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