Nature Quest: The eye-catching foxtail orchid | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 17, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 09:21 PM, January 21, 2018

Nature Quest: The eye-catching foxtail orchid

Have you ever spotted this orchid in our evergreen rainforests? If not, keep a close watch on the branches and the trunks of the grown-up trees from mid-summer until pre-monsoon. Not that you will spot them in every tree. You can enjoy the eye-catching grandeur of this orchid throughout monsoon. I came across this orchid on the sparse forests of Ramu on my way to Teknaf a few years ago. I could not take photos as the light was insufficient and the trees were quite tall. Around two years ago, I saw a few bunches on the hundred-year-old rain trees. You will find them in the Psyche part of the Baldha Garden in Wari and National Botanical Garden in Mirpur.

 Nowadays people cultivate orchids as a hobby. Commercial farming has started in Gazipur and Bhaluka of Mymensingh. These orchids are getting rare with our natural forests receding, as they grow on old trees. The famous Neel Vanda of Khasi hills of the Sylhet region is now very rare. The orchids in our country are known as Rashna in general.

The orchid in question is more known as foxtail orchid (Rhycostylis retusa). A dangling tuft of flowers imitating a foxtail is perhaps the reason behind its naming so. The round petal shaft is a bit puffy like a fox tail. This is our best looking orchid. It looks like Vanda but much bigger in size. The leaves are hollow and long. The hanging deep green leaves immensely add to the beauty of the flowers. More than a hundred fragrant white-violet flowers hang from the hollow of the leaves. This crowd of such bright flower is what catches our attention the most. These are basically orchids of dependent species. We have land orchids too. Foxtail orchids are found in large scale in Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia and India. The largest population is in Odisha and Arunachal. A few of them have survived in the hills of Chittagong and Sylhet.

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