Nervilia plicata

Species of the Month – May 2014

Nervilia Commerson ex Gaudichaud-Beaupre

The name Nervilia refers to prominent veins that are visible on the leaves. This genus is a genus consisting of around sixty-five sympodials. All the species are terrestrials found growing in low to upper elevation of forest floors, grasslands etc. The plants are generally small and the leaves are usually heart-shaped and not present while flowering.

Nervilia plicata (Andrews) Schltr.

This is one of the four species found in the southern state of Karnataka. India is known to have around sixteen species of Nervilia of which six are from South India.

Plant: Nervilia plicata has hairy blade leaf and like many other Nervilias the leaf can be seen once the flowering completes. The Nervilia plicataleaf can be observed tightly, flatly spread over the forest floor. The leaf is heart-shaped and usually of dark purplish in colour or dark green with irregularly mottled with purplish-brown and few centimetres wide!

Flowers: Flowering scape in Nervilia plicata is usually long and bearing one or two flowers at apex. Lip is purple in color with somewhat roundish apex. Flowering usually starts towards the end of the summer in the Western Ghats. First few rains of the rainy season might be whats triggering the flowering of the species.

Habitat: Nervilia plicata is usually found in forest floors of mid-elevation forests which receive good amount rain fall. It is also observed that the place where its found has good amount of leaf litter as well.

As the species goes dormant for the rest of the period, it is hard to find and to care for. Since it is not visible during this period any careless habitat destruction will lead to removal of the species from this ground. Though the species does have attractive foliage and flowers it is not found popular in cultivation. This could be due to its dormancy period where much care is required to not to let the tubers die, which poses a challenge even to a experienced grower.

Nervilia plicata
Nervilia plicata

1. Wild Orchids of Karnataka by Dr T Ananda Rao, S Sridhar
2. Illustrated Dictionary of Orchid Genera by Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

Article by : Ravee Bhat

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