One of the most attractive, much talked about of the world's plants is orchid. Admired universally for its splendour and aroma, the plant belongs to the family Orchidaceae, under the plant groups of Monocotyledon of Angiosperm. And has numerous species: each of which exhibits its own physical structure, flower colour, fragrance, behaviour, and other characteristics. Even if displaced from the natural habitats by orchid hunters for its commercial and medicinal values, the plant is endowed with sensitive inbuilt mechanism to adapt itself to the ever-changing environment. It, thus, falls in the rank of those plants, which are considered to be leading in evolutionary process in the plant kingdom, making orchid plants an excellent area for study of evolution.
Growing from the author's two decades of persevered research, The Orchids of Sikkim and North East Himalaya offers a thoroughgoing study of the orchids of Sikkim: an Indian state, cradled in the North-East Himalaya. Even if the region is not easily accessible – marked, as it is, by difficult mountainous terrains, steep hills and deep valleys, Sikkim: the one-time 'dark kingdom', has long been known for its floral wealth. The Orchids of Sikkim and North East Himalaya covers all the vascular plants of this group occurring in its tropical, sub-tropical and alpine zones. A little less than a half of the 1229 Indian species of orchids are believed to have their presence in this very region. Bringing forth the hitherto-unknown species, rediscovering the ones believed to be extinct, and looking afresh at others, The Orchids of Sikkim and North East Himalaya sets out meticulously detailed description of 557 taxa of orchids, including the 523 that are indigenous to Sikkim – together with scientific nomenclatures at family, genus and species levels. The Orchids of Sikkim and North East Himalaya carries vivid, scrupulously detailed, hand-drawn sketches of 541 species, in addition to 351 fascinating colour photographs.
S.Z. Lucksom, a member of the Sikkim Forest Service (SFS), is currently Director, Environment cum Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board, Sikkim, India.