Flora of Lava-Rikisum

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Shantanu Bhattacharya

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Oct 7, 2010, 3:20:31 PM10/7/10
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Hi…sharing my experiences from the Lava-Rikisum trip, and an account on the beautiful flora of the region.

A journey of 115km via Gorubathan from Chalsa near Siliguri took us to Lava, one of the most picturesque spot in the Darjeeling Himalayas. A serene misty hamlet in the Kalimpong sub division of West Bengal, Lava has been a recent addition in the tourism map of North Bengal and is getting immense popularity among the travelers looking for off beat destinations. We stayed in a resort at Rikisum admist the hills,  a few kms away from Lava town. 

Situated at an altitude of 2100m (app.7000 feet), Lava presents a landscape with ultimate splendour of nature that can never be captured by word. The conifer forests under the worm glow of sun with colourful birds flying and singing everywhere the whole surrounding will enthrall you to a new dimension. Lava remains hidden in the mists and clouds almost throughout the year. It stands against the backdrop of the Neora Valley National Park. Attractions approached from this unique landmark of bio-diversity are the emerald green valleys, lakes, waterfalls, the snow-capped mountain peaks and the unforgettable, ever smiling helpful village folks. Lava is the gateway of Neora Valley NP…. a virgin, unexplored terrain in the Himalayas. A drive to Algarah town through the pine clad winding road and the Sunrise view point are simply unforgettable. Rishap, another upcoming popular tourist destination is only 8kms from Lava.

Flora:  Lava is considered at the best ecological destination in India, and it is the gate- way to the famous Neora Valley Nationla park. It thrives in wide range of flora and fauna. Some of the most commonly found floras in Lava are orchids, pines, Cypresses, Cryptomeria japonica, ferns, cinnamon, junipers, bamboo, cacti and cardamom. Evergreen alpine vegetation and pine trees are commonly found. Here, you can find seven different species of rhododendron and three hundred species of orchids. The hill sides are dotted with sunflower and poinsettia.

The British planted the Dhoopi trees (Cryptomeria japonica) here and that adds to the beauty of the place….as seen in the pics. The tree is often called Japanese Cedar in English, though the tree is not related to the cedars (Cedrus). In Darjeeling district and Sikkim in India, where it is one of the most widely growing trees, Cryptomeria japonica is called Dhuppi and is favoured for its light wood, extensively used in house building. It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft) tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related Giant Sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), from which it can be differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia).Sugi (and Hinoki) pollen is a major cause of hay fever in Japan.Sugi has been so long-cultivated in China that it is thought by some to be native there. Forms selected for ornament and timber production long ago in China have been described as a distinct variety Cryptomeria japonica var. sinensis (or even a distinct species, Cryptomeria fortunei), but they do not differ from the full range of variation found in the wild in Japan, and there is no definite evidence the species ever occurred wild in China.
The hills turn red with the Rhododendron blossoms during spring.

We have also seen banana trees growing at such high altitudes. (refer image 2)

 

Images:  1. Dhoopi trees (Cryptomeria japonica)

                2. The vegetation of Lava from our resort…..check out the banana tree.

                

      3. Standing infront of the Dhupi plantations

      4. Lycopodium

      5. A spectacular view of the Kanchenjungha peak

      6. The mist shrouded coniferous forests of Lava

      7. the winding road bordered by pines

      8.Rhododendron arboreum

      9. Close up of Cryptomeria (male)

 

Regards

Shantanu : )

 

Shantanu Bhattacharya.
B.Sc, M.Sc (Zoology)
University of Calcutta.
Teaching Faculty.
Dept. of Biology.
Vivekananda Mission School(ICSE).
Joka. Kolkata.

 

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rhododendron.jpg
Cryptomeria japonica male.jpg

tanay bose

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Oct 7, 2010, 9:34:27 PM10/7/10
to Shantanu Bhattacharya, efloraofindia

Thanks for sharing Shantanu Da
Tanay
--
Tanay Bose
Research Assistant & Teaching Assistant.
Department of Botany.
University of British Columbia .
3529-6270 University Blvd.
Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4 (Canada)
Phone: 778-323-4036 (Mobile)
            604-822-2019 (Lab)

Rashida Atthar

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Oct 8, 2010, 12:53:50 AM10/8/10
to tanay bose, Shantanu Bhattacharya, efloraofindia
Very interesting descriptions and beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing Shantanu ji.  Japanese cedars and banana trees in the same habitat, I wonder how common is this !   

regards,
Rashida.

Shantanu

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Oct 8, 2010, 10:18:26 AM10/8/10
to efloraofindia
Yes Rashida ji.....i was also surprised to see banana trees growing at
such high altitude (6500 feet). I dont know whether it is the same
species Musa paradisiaca...that grows here in the plains.....or may be
these trees have become adapted to live in cold climatic conditions.
The temperature was near zero degrees at night, and we had also
noticed frost in the grass at dawn. We were shivering with cold, and
preferred to remain under the thick blankets after evening.....
I thought plantains grow only in the hot n humid conditions of the
tropics. But adaptation of this tree in such cold climate is something
really strange and interesting.

cheers!
Shantanu : )

On Oct 8, 9:53 am, Rashida Atthar <atthar.rash...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Very interesting descriptions and beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing
> Shantanu ji.  Japanese cedars and banana trees in the same habitat, I wonder
> how common is this !
>
> regards,
> Rashida.
>
>
>
> On Fri, Oct 8, 2010 at 7:04 AM, tanay bose <tanaybos...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Thanks for sharing Shantanu Da
> > Tanay
>
> >> called *Japanese Cedar* in English, though the tree is not related to the
> >> cedars (*Cedrus*). In Darjeeling district and Sikkim in India, where it
> >> is one of the most widely growing trees, *Cryptomeria japonica* is called
> >> *Dhuppi* and is favoured for its light wood, extensively used in house
> >> building. It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft)
> >> tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in
> >> vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm
> >> (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in)
> >> diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related
> >> Giant Sequoia (*Sequoiadendron giganteum*), from which it can be
> >> differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and
> >> smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the
> >> trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia).Sugi (and Hinoki) pollen is
> >> a major cause of hay fever in Japan.Sugi has been so long-cultivated in
> >> China that it is thought by some to be native there. Forms selected for
> >> ornament and timber production long ago in China have been described as a
> >> distinct variety *Cryptomeria japonica* var. *sinensis* (or even a
> >> distinct species, *Cryptomeria fortunei*), but they do not differ from
> > *Tanay Bose*
> > Research Assistant & Teaching Assistant.
> > Department of Botany.
> > University of British Columbia .
> > 3529-6270 University Blvd.
> > Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4 (Canada)
> > Phone: 778-323-4036 (Mobile)
> >             604-822-2019 (Lab)
> > ta...@interchange.ubc.ca- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

Shantanu

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Oct 8, 2010, 10:18:56 AM10/8/10
to efloraofindia
Thanks a lot Tanay.
have a nice time

Shantanu

On Oct 8, 6:34 am, tanay bose <tanaybos...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Thanks for sharing Shantanu Da
> Tanay
>
> > called *Japanese Cedar* in English, though the tree is not related to the
> > cedars (*Cedrus*). In Darjeeling district and Sikkim in India, where it is
> > one of the most widely growing trees, *Cryptomeria japonica* is called *
> > Dhuppi* and is favoured for its light wood, extensively used in house
> > building. It is a very large evergreen tree, reaching up to 70 m (230 ft)
> > tall and 4 m (13 ft) trunk diameter, with red-brown bark which peels in
> > vertical strips. The leaves are arranged spirally, needle-like, 0.5–1 cm
> > (0.20–0.39 in) long; and the seed cones globular, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in)
> > diameter with about 20–40 scales. It is superficially similar to the related
> > Giant Sequoia (*Sequoiadendron giganteum*), from which it can be
> > differentiated by the longer leaves (under 0.5 cm in the Giant Sequoia) and
> > smaller cones (4–6 cm in the Giant Sequoia), and the harder bark on the
> > trunk (thick, soft and spongy in Giant Sequoia).Sugi (and Hinoki) pollen is
> > a major cause of hay fever in Japan.Sugi has been so long-cultivated in
> > China that it is thought by some to be native there. Forms selected for
> > ornament and timber production long ago in China have been described as a
> > distinct variety *Cryptomeria japonica* var. *sinensis* (or even a
> > distinct species, *Cryptomeria fortunei*), but they do not differ from the
> *Tanay Bose*
> Research Assistant & Teaching Assistant.
> Department of Botany.
> University of British Columbia .
> 3529-6270 University Blvd.
> Vancouver, B.C. V6T 1Z4 (Canada)
> Phone: 778-323-4036 (Mobile)
>             604-822-2019 (Lab)
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