We have a wonderful flower that reminds us of Vesak. That is the Vesak orchid. The uniqueness of this flower is that it does not bloom until one month after Vesak. Although flowering begins in April, flowering increases during the month of Vesak. We can smell this flower. Depending on the health of the environment, flowering sometimes occurs in February, March, June, August and September. Devotees in the villages of Sabaragamuwa used to carry Vesak flowers when going to temples during the Vesak season. Today, however, these flowers belong to the endangered species.
An endemic rare orchid
There are about 29,000 species of orchids worldwide. It is considered to be the second ‘flowering plant family’ in the world. According to botanical researchers, there are 188 orchid species found in Sri Lanka. Of these, 69 species are endemic to Sri Lanka. Vesak flower also known as Dendrobium maccarthiae is a unique and rare flower.
This plant does not grow in the ground. They grow on the trunk or branches of another tree, a support plant. Vesak flowers, a number of supporting plants that can be seen entwined for their survival. Among the species that grow in abundance in the wet zone are wild boar, wild squirrel, batadomba, rubber, and arecanut. This orchid thrives in a shady, humid environment.
The light purple flower has six petals, the lower petiole is large and flattened. A dark purple spot can be seen in the middle of this lower lobe. There is a white ring around the spot. Its flowers appear in a drooping pinch. The flower is about eight centimeters large. Vesak flowers are pollinated by insects. The seeds float in the wind and spread.
Protected by law
This plant which has been beautifying the forests of Sabaragamuwa since the English colonial period has been given special importance. This is evident from the inclusion of the Vesak Orchid among the protected plant species under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance of 1937. According to the Fauna and Flora Ordinance No. 22 of 2009, all the native orchids found in our country including the Vesak plant have been designated as protected plants. Therefore, it is strictly forbidden to destroy, damage, sell or display the Vesak flower plant.
The Vesak flower plant was declared an endangered species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) in 2007 due to its threat. Back in 2012, it was added to the Endangered- EN section of the Red Data List because its risk had not gone away.
Where is it?
It is most prevalent in the Ratnapura District of the Sabaragamuwa Province. However, it can be found in Kalutara, Kegalle and Galle in the lowland wet zone. These flowers still bloom in Ratnapura, Kuruwita, Kalawana, Ayagama and Veddagala. It is found in forests as well as in shady places in backyards. Sec. Gray. The plant needs a temperature of 25-30 degrees and a humidity of 70-75 percent. There should also be good sunlight. Therefore, instead of dense forests, these plants grow mostly in the open air of the forest.
How to grow?
Grows in shady places on tree trunks or branches. An adult plant is about two to three feet long and the elongated plant hangs down from the supporting plant. The plant grows on a supporting plant with a large number of thin white and light green roots. The leaves are fleshy. They are about s. M. It’s about 4-8. The roots attached to the host tree are called the alahna roots. In addition, the roots that grow in the trunk and hang in the air are called aerial roots.
Alahna grows as a root bush. Between these roots, parts of the leaves, dust, etc. combine to form an artificial soil. It absorbs water during the rainy season and provides moisture to the tree during the dry season. The seeds of this plant need a fungus to germinate.
How the name came to be
The plant was named Dendrobiium maccarthiae after Lady McCarthy, the wife of British Governor Charles McCarthy, who lived in the country from 1860-1863. It was originally named Dendrobium maccarthiae thwaites.
Lady McCarthy is a woman who introduced our country to the world of several orchids and flowers. Therefore, it was named in her honor by Dr. G. Jayasinghe, the then Director of the Peradeniya Botanic Gardens, who conducted research on this plant. H. K. By Twitz.
A pinch of flowers
The flowers are pinched. A very beautiful flower grows here. It is beautiful to see the Vesak flowers hanging down from the trunk of the support tree. Flower s. M. It is about 5-10 in size and produces about 10-15 flowers in a single pinch.
The flower that went to the stamp
Due to the importance of the Vesak flower, several stamps have been issued for it. The first stamp was issued on February 4, 1950. The 15 cent Vesak Orchid stamp issued with the approval of the then Post Master General Ignatius Perera became very popular. Then on December 27, 1994, for the 60th anniversary of the Sri Lanka Orchid Circle, a Vesak stamp with a value of fifty cents was issued again. On December 13, 2019, a stamp depicting the Vesak flower, the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Flower, was issued in the stamp category for provincial flowers in Sri Lanka. This Vesak flower has also been added to the 50 rupee note in the series of banknotes depicting endemic flora and fauna issued on 26.03.1979.
Sabaragamuwa Provincial Flower
The Vesak Orchid was named as the Sabaragamuwa Provincial Flower after naming all the nine provinces of Sri Lanka. With the defeat of the LTTE in 2009, there was a need to name a war hero flower. Although Vesak flowers were proposed there, it was not fulfilled. This flower was also proposed at the time of making proposals for the national flower of this country but it was not selected.
Causes of destruction
Reports say that this beautiful flower began to be collected in large numbers after 1900. Also, the rescue of plants took place over a long period of time. Wetlands are rapidly being cleared of deforestation. The host trees are cut down. It is a big problem for the survival of the plant. The increase in the temperature of the environment due to climate change is also a factor that adversely affects the Vesak plant. According to some people living in the wet zone forests, ‘Vesak flower’ is a difficult plant to cultivate.
Although foreigners have taken Vesak flowers to countries such as the United States and Britain several times, they have not been allowed to breed this plant. The ‘Kiev Garden’ in Australia once tried to plant Vesak flowers in Sri Lanka but it has been reported that the plant died after flowering one flower.