Orchidaceae Fortnight:: Herminium monorchis | VoF : Attachments (1). 3 posts by 3 authors.
Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttarakhand
Aug., 2012

Nice Shot … I think we missed this during VoF Tour

Thanks interesting find.


Orchidaceae fortnight : Herminium monorchis : Shimla : RVS4 :  Attachments (1). 6 posts by 5 authors.
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I hope this is Herminium monorchis.   Regards  Vijay——————————————————————- Vijayasankar Raman, Ph.D. National Center for Natural Products Research University of Mississippi
I hope this is Herminium monorchis.

This could be Herminium monorchis, need front pic to confirm the identity. 



Fwd: Herminium monorchis in Lahaul : 3 posts by 2 authors. Attachments (3)
Further to my posting of what might be H.monorchis in Kashmir, I
attach some images from Lahaul, Himachal Pradesh.
I came across the ‘Musk Orchid’ along irrigation channels of fields whilst leading botanical treks in the Miyah Nullah, Lahaul.
The images were scanned in from slides taken by myself and Adam Stainton.

Yes this looks like Herminium monorchis. Thanks for sharing.




I began by thinking that it would be worthwhile to have images of Herminium monorchis taken in the NW Himalaya to add to those posted from Uttarakhand and that this post would be quick and straightforward, however, it has not worked out that way but always useful to check things – even though rather time-consuming.  It is all-too-easy to casually assume a plant belongs to a well-known species without ever examining it closely, so you can be aware of similar ones or spot differences/misidentifications of that species.
I have e.g. never looked at Herminium monorchis with a hand-lens @ x10 or x20 magnification.
I must admit that after ALWAYS wearing and regularly using a hand lens in the UK and on my early expeditions to the Himalaya, I used one less and less – in part because seldom is such detail available/used in local floras.
I photographed on my most recent visit to Kashmir an orchid at the edge of Khelanmarg, which I took to be Herminium monorchis.
See images 1-5 below.
Not being an orchid specialist, I have never taken much notice of them, unlike some who make a special effort to track down every member of Orchidaceae they can.
Having complex flowers, those with smaller-sized flowers require close-inspection.
I first came across this orchid beside the Sind River at Sonamarg during the Kashmir Botanical Expedition of 1983.  It was also found along irrigation channels of cultivated fields in Miyah Nullah whilst leading botanical tours in Lahoul in the mid-1980s.
Flowers of the Himalaya record it in forests and marshy ground in drier areas @ 3000-4300m from Pakistan to Central Nepal, Tibet, China, N.Asia, Europe.
Stewart recorded it from N.Pakistan incl. Baltistan and Ladakh @ 2400-4200m.
However, ‘Plants of Gulmarg’ by Naqshi, Singh & Koul (1984) do not record Herminium monorchis but do list Herminium pugioniforme on the basis of a 19th Century record by Aitchison – as does Stewart, who found it near Mt. Kolahoi in the Upper Lidder Valley.  None of the other orchids they list seem likely.
So, had I mistaken what I though was H.monorchis for H.pugionforme, which I had never heard of, or the Musk Orchid had been missed on Khelanmarg?
It seems that H.pugioniforme is now Androcorys pugionformis (Lindl. ex Hook.f.) K.Y.Lang, see:
http://apps.kew.org/herbcat/getImage.do?imageBarcode=K000387532  – it is impossible to say much on the low resolution image of this pressed specimen at Kew (at least to my eye, unfamiliar with orchids).
However, there are a number of close-up images:
My initial impressions are that Herminium monorchis seems more likely but I would welcome the thoughts of others?

Yes sir.

Nice images…

Thanks … Can you tell us of any recent records of Androcorys pugionformis (Lindl. ex Hook.f.) K.Y.Lang in Kashmir or indeed along the Himalaya as a whole?

Andocorys pugionformis has been reported from Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand (Garhwal), Nepal, India (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh), Bhutan, Tibet and China from elevation above 3000m (to be precise from 2700 – 5000 m). There had been recent records from Nepal and Uttarakhand (around 2004)

Just for information, there is a group in China who are revising the genus and hence be ready for some major changes again. I assume they will put everything back into Herminium along with some Platanthera too.
Habitat (copied from J.S.Jalal D.Sc thesis (2011): Occurs in alpine meadows between 3600 and 4000m and prefers to grow in exposed meadows with 2-3 individuals together with association of Danthonia cachemyriana Jaub. & Spach, Bistorata affinis (D.Don) Greene, grasses, ferns and other alpine herbs. This is a very rare species in the west Himalaya and due to grazing pressures and other biotic activities in its natural habitat; this species seems to be on the verge of extinction.

Thanks again … for additional information.
I consider it most useful to begin including ecological information as to the habitats of species in floras including associated species (provided these have been correctly identified). I have minimal knowledge of orchids – Orchidaceae really is JUST ANOTHER plant family to me, so am not referring to an example from this family but I have noticed a habit of listing companion species for a plant which occurs the full length of the Himalaya from say the Eastern Himalaya, thinking this applies in the West as well, when the companion species found in the East may not grow…..   One has to be cautious about extrapolating especially from very few examples.   It may be that the examples seen are atypical.
But should be encouraged.  Checklists and floras that have almost exclusively taxonomic and nomenclatural information can be of LIMITED USE to most people.
In the UK, we divided the country up into Counties. The most recent ‘Flora of Berkshire’ e.g. was compiled by a plant ecologist (immensely knowledgeable) which contains a wealth of associated information including entomological as to which species of plants are food plants or pollinated by certain insects etc.
To me this BRINGS the flora alive. As you know better than I, orchids often exist very much “in association” (as do all plants to a lesser or greater extent) with other plants and MICROORGANISMS.
Bistorta affinis is an abundant plant in many places in the mountains incl. on Aphawat in Kashmir. Danthonia cachemyriana was found to be common in rock crevices in Kashmir by Stewart@ 2600-4000m.
IF species belonging to other genera or families can be recognised in the field they can help “track down” colonies of a species especially those less conspicuous when not in flower – which is the case for many terrestrial orchids.  No doubt in the Himalaya as for the UK colonies fluctuate from year-to-year.
Yes, we must always be BRACING ourselves for taxonomic and nomenclatural changes – and differences of interpretation/opinion….
I must comment that ALL we can say, with all due respect, at this stage, because the Himalaya is so vast and so little explored, is that a particular species has been RARELY observed.   IT MIGHT indeed be genuinely RARE and PROBABLY is, for Androcorys pugionformis but some species of all sorts of genera and families are often over-looked.  This species certainly cannot be described as common, locally or otherwise.
Even in the UK which is smaller and has had literally thousands of botanists exploring for centuries, we do not fully know the distribution well of all species.
After all, I spotted what seems to be Herminium monorchis at the edge of Khelanmarg on a single, brief visit, yet this species was not mentioned in ‘Plants of Gulmarg’ (1984) so had not been observed by local botanists for decades and this is a highly accessible location, visited by many. There are lots of parts of Kashmir seldom visited by botanists. To be fair, I could return to the same spot and not find ‘Musk Orchid’ in flower or indeed any evidence of above-ground foliage.
I have only seen a few species of orchid in the UK despite having been an active field botanist in the early 1980s.  Unless one visits suitable habitat one RARELY comes across them – SOME species are RARE but not all of them by any means.  This year I photographed (for the first time) Dactylorhiza fuchsia after being shown a colony at the non-flowering stage.   This orchid is LOCALLY common on chalk.  It is not found anywhere near to where I live and normally walk. See:
I am always fascinated by your detailed mail and analysis of each species. Yourself and … are two of the most senior members of our group and we always admire your thoroughness.

The information on rarity, although is a part of my friend D.Sc. thesis work, it is actually based on lot of cumulative information of his, mine, our common mentor, our juniors and persons involved in various other projects in the region. Infact I had seen A. pugioniformis only once at the entrance of Valley of Flowers in 2009 July. You are right if we could have more detailed information on habitat ecology then it could have been interesting and helpful in tracing the plant back. It is also true that often the plants are overlooked or not found and it happens due to bad timing or due to other reasons and also because sometimes people dont share information :)…
I will tell you one funny story:
One day, one scientist came with a picture of an orchid to my mentor, … of Wildlife Institute of India. He claimed that the picture was taken in western Himalaya. My mentor called me and I said this is not found in western Himalaya and my mentor said, “the grass behind the flower is not found in western Himalaya and even the soil is different”.
The guy who brought the picture was in no case agreeing that the picture was not taken in western himalaya. He left. But ultimately one week later, he called back to say that the picture was taken in Sikkim and not in Western Himalaya.
Why I said this, is because it is always good to have any additional information on habit and habitat which sometimes people disregard.
In India some people say that they are taxonomists while others say that they are ecologist. And I always say, taxonomy is part of ecology.




Herminium monorchis ABAUG2017/05 : 4 posts by 3 authors. Attachments (5)

I found this orchid just before reaching Snowline and then again on the ridge above Snowline. I think this is Herminium monorchis and am ruing the fact that I did not bother to smell it. It will take another visit before I can confirm it. Please advise.

Herminium monorchis
Snowline, Above Triund, Dharamshala, HP
3300m approx.
28-29 July 2017

Yes this does look like Herminium monorchis. I remember seeing it at the beginning of Valley of Flowers.



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