are highly valued for their fantastic range of variation and long lasting
flowers. Of 17,000 species of orchids in the world, about 1,250 occur in
India, of which nearly 300 are to be found in Meghalaya. They form a very
noticeable element of the vegetation of the State and these hills have
been the classical collection centres of many celebrated botanists and
horticultural plant-collectors. They are, as a result, becoming scarce and
some of the ornamental species are nearing extinction.
The orchids of Meghalaya have distributions extending upto Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, China on one hand and Burma, Malaya, Thailand on the other. Few species are only confined to Meghalaya. In Cherrapunji, the two forests - Mawsmai and Mawmluh contain the highest number of orchid species in the whole region. Sohrarim is another forest on the way to Cherrapunji, which is paradise of Botanists.
Conservation of orchids is now a matter of universal concern. There is urgent need to maintain orchid sanctuaries and special efforts must be made to protect the 'Sacred forests' of Meghalaya, hitherto preserved by religious sanction alone. 'Orchid banks' may be created in orchidaria or in forest nurseries by bringing endangered species from their natural habitat and displaying them for the public.