CONSERVATION OF A MEDICINAL ORCHID THROUGH EX-SITUCULTIVATION: AN EXPERIMENTAL TRIAL ON SAALAMPANJA(DACTYLORHIZA HATAGIREA D.DON) SOó RET SPECIES INNORTH WESTERN HIMALAYAJ.S. Butola, Himshikha, Vikas Jadon, Pankaj Sharma, A.R. Malik and R.K. Vashistha
Dactylorhiza hatagirea (D.Don) SoÃ³ (Orchidaceae), popularly known as Saalmpanja, is a high value perennialherb. It inhabits sub-alpine to alpine regions, ranging at elevations between 2500 - 5000 m.a.s.l., Due to overharvesting, it has now been declared as âCritically endangeredâ medicinal orchid in Himalayan region. Exsituproduction and sustainable harvesting from wild habitats are viable options for its conservation. Anexperimental trial following Randomized Block Design was carried out to analyze plant growth, phenologyand productivity (per ha) under cultivation as compared with the plants of the same age group growingnaturally in nearby forest area. Seed germination was found nil however all the tubers sprouted withoutany treatment. Comparatively, cultivated plants were found to be superior in every aspect of growth,biomass, and productivity. The study concludes that there are high possibilities of ex-situ production of thisspecies in high altitude zones resembling to its wild habitats. The plants can be easily raised throughtubers; however, intensive studies are suggested here to under seed germination mechanism in this species.Due to its high demand in Ayurvedic formulations, ex-situ production of the species will open new avenuesfor consistent supply of raw materials and thus, good returns to the high-altitude farmers. The studyrecommends an extensive scientific effort to develop GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) and sustainableGFCP (Good Forest Collection Practices) in such Himalayan RET (Rare Endangered Threatened) plantspecies.