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| Last Updated:14/05/2024

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Successfully Securing a Second Home for the State Tree



Rhododendron niveumSuccessfully Securing a Second Home for the State Tree


(Picture: Rhododendron niveum blooming in Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary in Gangtok district, Sikkim)


Rhododendron niveum is a small tree that grows up to 6 m height and is also known as the Hiun- pate guransh (snow leaf). It has unique smoky blue or purple-mauve flowers and snow-white under surface of leaves. The generic epithet is derived from Greek “rhodon” means rose and “dendron” means tree. The specific epithet is derived from Latin “niveus” meaning snowy or snow-white, attributes to colour of leaves lower surface. Due to its beauty, uniqueness and endemic nature, it has been recognized as the State Tree of Sikkim. It is found only in North Sikkim in the vicinity of Shingba Rhododendron Sanctuary above Lachung. Due to growing biotic pressure in this location, the forest department over the last four decades was constantly working towards creating a second population for which multi-location trials were carried out. Amongst all these experimental plots, the plants transplanted in the Kyongnosla Alpine Sanctuary have successfully established and are now blooming. A survey conducted by Botanical Survey of India, Sikkim Himalayan Regional Centre has also found that these plants in Kyongnosla are doing well, and have recommended that this site can be supplemented to create a second population of the State Tree. With accelerating biotic, climatic and environment change, it is but imperative that we create alternate home and rescue rare, endangered and threatened species as an adaptation measure to secure their long-term survival. This two-decade long experiment of the Forest and Environment department to identify an ecologically equivalent site to create a second home for the State Tree is finally bearing fruit. Now, in the coming months this initiative will be scaled to house a sizeable number of individuals to develop a second population of the state tree in Kyongnosla, Gangtok district.


Source: Press release, Forest and Environment Department, GoS dated 29-Nov-2022