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Flowers in Nepal

 

Rhododendron Flowers

During Spring - March to May - Rhododendron blooms can be seen in all the hilly regions of Nepal above 1,200m altitude. More specifically, the mid mountain vertical belt between 2,000 and 4,000m serves as the 'wild' preserve of the Rhododendron, or GURANS and CHIMAL, the two words used in Nepali.

There are four major areas for Rhododendron treks:

  1. Milke Danda-Jaljale Himal, a transverse mountain range which separates the two river systems of the Tamur and the Arun,
  2. Upper Tamur River Valley,
  3. Makalu-Barun National Park,
  4. Closer to Kathmandu - the Langtang Valley inside Langtang National Park.

Nepal has 30 indigenous species of Rhododendron, and one which is endemic to Nepal and not found elsewhere, is R. lowndesit. It has lemon or creamy yellow flowers, which are short well-shaped and are solitary or in pairs on the stem. It grows in the drier areas of western Nepal near Muktinath and Phoksundo.

A Rhododendron trek to the Upper Tamur River would consist of a flight to Bhadrapur then a drive to Ilam. Ilam is the well-known tea production center and could include some interesting side trips to tea plantations. From Ilam, a trek can start to the south-west side of the Kanchenjunga area and the upper valleys of the Tamur River system. Very grand sightings of Rhododendron can be assured in this region.

And closer to Kathmandu, Dhunche at 2,000 meters is a 5-6 hour drive away. Trekking can start here to the upper areas of the Langtang Valley. Nine species of Rhododendron can be seen in this region.

The best time is late March to mid June, and in addition to the Rhododendron, spring blooms of wild poppy, magnolia and primrose will make the trek a memorable one. Botany or flora trekking requires the same equipment, guides, porters and fitness as normal trekking in Nepal. The usual precautions need to be taken, and respect for the environment needs to be uppermost in the minds of the trekkers.

Orchid flowers in Nepal:

The world abounds with some 500 to 600 genera and some 20,000 to 35,000 names, the largest of all plant families, and out of this, Nepal has 57 genera (27 Terrestrials and 30 Epiphytic) with a few Lithophytes. Wide spread into different ecological zones, from the foot hills of the Himalayas to the plains in the Terai, the orchid-world in Nepal is immensely interesting for nature lovers and horticultural experts.

Some terrestrial orchids which flower during July-August have a stem with only two leaves and purple flowers; another orchid from the same genera in west Nepal flowers during February-March and is orange-green.

In March-April in Godavari, there are orchids with greenish fragrant flowers, and in Shivapuri and Kakani orchids with white or pale yellow flowers. During September-October, Sundarijal has green orchids streaked with purple colors, and on the way to Daman in November, pale mauve orchids line the banks of the road. All of the above areas are accessible in a couple of hours or less from Kathmandu, with Dhankuta and Hetauda a little further away sporting yellow flowers, and in Khandbari purple-brown with pale borders.

Nepal is indeed endowed with an incredible variety of orchids scattered all over the Himalayan kingdom. Dedrobium is the largest species, followed by Habenaria and Bulbophyllum. Anthogonium, Hemipilia and Lusia are some of the other varieties amongst the nearly two dozen single species families.

No destination in Nepal is devoid of orchids including most of the trekking routes, and near Kathmandu the areas to visit are the Godavari Botanical Gardens to the south, Sundarijal to the north, Nagarjun to the west and Dhulikhel to the east. You will find orchids at one or more of these areas all year round.

Trees in Nepal Himalaya:

Nepal has a variety of beautiful trees, of which the Banyan and the Peepal are associated with Hindu and Buddhist holy sites, frequently found beside temples and shrines. It is considered that the original tree under which Maya Devi gave birth to her son Gautama Siddhartha was a peepal tree, but nobody knows for sure.

The Eucalyptus trees were introduced into Nepal from Australia in the 19th century, and in Kathmandu can be smelt as you walk along a street after rain has fallen. The Spruce, an evergreen, coniferous pine tree which took its name from Prussia where it traditionally came from; the Juniper another evergreen is a crucial ingredient in the flavoring of gin, and in medicines it is used as a diuretic. Laurel, or bay tree, is well known, and, The Cedar and Deodar are found throughout Nepal, with the cedar often used to make incense, and in west Nepal there is an indigenous Cypress called Himalayan Cypress. The tree line in Nepal is at 5,000 meters, and above this no trees are found.

In the Annapurna Conservation Area are Alpine Pasture, Alpine Meadow, Trans-Himalayan Steppe, Fire-Blue Pine Forest, Birch Forest, Rhododendron Forest, Sub-alpine Juniper Forest, Hemlock and Oak forest, Cypress Forest, East Himalayan Oak and Lauren Forest, Alder Forest, and Schima-Castanopsis Forest.

In the Kanchenjungha Conservation Area are Dwarf Rhododendron Scrub, Rhododendron shrubberies, Fir and Larch forest, mixed broad leaved forest, East Himalayan Oak and Laurel, and Schima-Castanopsis Forest.

In the Khaptad National Park are Fir, Oak and Rhododendron Forest, West Himalayan Fir and Hemlock forest, Mountain oak, mixed oak and laurel forest, Chir Pine and broad leaved forest.

In the Langtang National Park are Alpine pasture, juniper scrub, alpine meadow, dwarf rhododendron, juniper shrubs, fir and larch forest, mixed blue pin and oak forest, laurel and chir pine forest.

In the Makalu-Barun Conservation Area are alpine pasture, alpine meadow, and dwarf rhododendron scrub, fir and birch forest, and rhododendron shrubberies, temperate mountain oak, oak and laurel forest, Hill Sal Forest.

In Rara National Park are alpine mats and scrub, rhododendron and juniper shrub land, fir forest, mountain oak, upper temperate blue pine forest, and spruce. Mixed oak and laurel forest.

In the Shey-Phoksundo National Park are alpine pasture, alpine mats and scrub, trans- Himalayan steppe, blue pine, birch, rhododendron forest, larch, mountain oak, cedar and cypress forest, deciduous walnut, maple, alder forest, steppe with Euphorbia, Royleana, Grasses and Artemisia.

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P.O. Box 24947
Nil Saraswati Marg,
Lazimpat-2,

Kathmandu, Nepal
Telephone: (977-1) 444-2879

Email: info@sherpajourneys.net and nepal@sherpajourneys.net

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