In Kandy, a well-known tourist city which is a few hours drive from Colombo, both in the famous Royal Botanical Garden and the forests, orchid spotting and photographing is a favoured activity of the tourists in the city of Kandy, inform my kin visiting the city and surrounding areas.Identifying orchids is simple since they have many common characteristics. However it would help to know the parts of a normal flower in order to understand the rest of this article better. Most of the orchid plants are perched on the tree tops of along the tree trunks having a lot of moss. They are easy to identify since they have a highly modified petal called Labellum or Lip.
In most orchid flowers, the lip-like petal is of a larger size, different in shape from other petals which attracts the insects for pollination. Along with being exotic and highly evolved flowers, they are long lasting and do not dry up for many days even after being plucked.
“Orchid flowers have three sepals in the outer whorl and three petals in the inner whorl. Often, the sepals are very similar in size and appearance to the petals and hence are also called tepals. Further, downward facing labellum is opposite the fertile anther,” inform my kin in technical language adding that orchids are perennial herbs with thick leathery leaves and corky roots.
Around the city, there are orchid nurseries and horticulture gardens wherein cultivation of orchids for extracting of fragrance, essence, perfumes and scents is done. Essence of vanilla is also used for aromatherapy and perfumes. Also, the parts of orchids get used in herbal medicine and are still being used in many traditional healing methods prevalent in Sri Lanka.
Many tourist love to go nature trails in this area since it is one of the top bio-diversity hotspots across the world. I am told that the Sri Lankan orchids fall under the protection of the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance of the country hence tourists are allowed to take photographs of the flowers in the forest and not pluck them.
Those, who do not have time for nature trails, the Royal Botanical Gardens, Peradeniya, Kandy is the best place to have a look at orchid flowers and photograph them. This is what was done by my kin who have sent a few photographs of orchids.