Tentacled Habenaria
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Tentacled Habenaria
P Native Photo: Jambey Tsering
Common name: Tentacled Habenaria
Botanical name: Habenaria pantlingiana    Family: Orchidaceae (Orchid family)
Synonyms: Habenaria cirrhifera, Habenaria longitentaculata, Habenaria polytrichia

Tentacled Habenaria is a medium sized, terrestrial orchid with an ovoid tuber giving rise to an erect, elongate, hairless stem enveloped in the lower half by tubular sheaths and in the upper half carrying 7, narrowly elliptic to obovate-lanceshaped, herbaceous, stem clasping leaves. It is named in honour of Robert Pantling (1856–1910), a British botanist known for his masterly drawings and colour paintings of Indian orchids. The plant blooms in the later summer and earlier fall on a branch-end, raceme, 10-15 cm long, densely many flowered, with linear-lanceshaped bracts with a tail, and carrying sweetly fragrant flowers. Flowers are green. Dorsal sepal erect, ovate-lanceshaped, concave, 1.2-1.5 x 0.4-0.6 cm, 3-veined, tip long tapering-with a tail; lateral sepals reflexed, slightly oblique, ovate-lanceshaped, 1.4-1.5 x 0.4-0.6 cm, 3-veined, tip long tapering-with a tail. Petals are deeply 2-lobed from base; lobes divaricate, thread-like; upper lobe 1.1-1.4 cm; lower lobe 1.8-2 cm. Lip is deeply 3-lobed from base; lobes thread-like, 1.8-2.5 cm x about 0.8 mm, sometimes mid-lobe shorter than lateral lobes. Spur is drooping, cylindric, 1.8-2.3 cm, about as long as or longer than ovary. Tentacled Habenaria is found in NE India, China, Japan, Nepal, Vietnam, at altitudes of 400-700 m. Flowering: August-October.

Identification credit: Jambey Tsering Photographed in Sessa Orchid Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh.

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