Species of the Month – November 2016
Habenaria elwesii Hook.f.
syn Ate elwesii (Hook.f.) Szlach.
This terrestrial species usually blooms in the months of September-October. Plants including inflorescence, can grow up to 12-15inches tall. The inflorescence can bear up 10-12 flowers. Labellum in the flower is 3-lobed and petals are having two lobes with one of the lobes covered in soft tuft of hair. The flowers are greenish white in colour and about 1cm wide.
The typical habitat to find this is grassy slopes on the edges of forest receiving high amount of rainfall. Leaves are usually 3-4 in number. The plant, like other Habenarias stays dormant all through the year surviving on its tubers underground. New shoots start to emerge after the Monsoon has reached its peak in the Ghats.
This is not a commonly seen terrestrial species. Since it’s found in a seemingly “useless” open grassy slopes of the forest, it is easy it overlook. Change in rainfall also has been playing major role in flowering and plant growth, which is true for most of the terrestrial orchid flora found in and around Western Ghats.
1. Flora of Hassan District Karnataka, India – C. J. Saldanha and D. H. Nicolson
2. Flora of the Presidency of Madras – J. S. Gamble