Meghalaya is a treasure trove of Nature, with its richly varied
and dense endemic, exotic and cultivated flora. Nature, in its generous
abundance, had bestowed on Meghalaya a unique array of vegetation,
ranging from tropical and sub-tropical to temperate or near temperate.
This is due to the diverse topography, varied and abundant rainfall
and differential climatic and edaphic conditions of the State, within
small regions.. Biotic factors have also played an important role,
at places decisive.
Geographical position of Meghalaya has it appears favoured immigration
and introduction of different plant species from the neighbouring
states of the North Eastern India and also countries like China,
Tibet and Burma.
Geological factors, like the connection of Meghalaya with the land
masses of Peninsular India, the Pacific Islands, Madagaskar and
some other portions of Africa might also have influenced Meghalaya's
flora and fauna to some extent.
A Botanical Wonder
Meghalaya's endemic Pitcher Plant or Nepenthes khasiana Hk. remains
till now an explicable phenomenon to the botanists. It occurs in
the Jarain area of the Jaintia Hills and the Baghmara area of the
The people in the Khasi Hills where the plant grows call it Tiew-Rakot,
which means demon-flower or devouring-plant. The Jaintias call it
Kset Phare, Kset means net with a lid and Phare means fly. The Garos
call the plant Memang-Koksi, which literally means the basket of
the devil. The most interesting part of the Pitcher Plant is its
leaf. The leaf is modified into different organs, such as the lamina,
the tendril, the pitcher and the lid. Over the pitcher, a lid is
formed. It is an outgrowth on the face of the leaf near its apex.
The lid grows and then become sealed over the mouth of the pitcher.
When the plant attains maturity, the lid opens up. The pitcher is
designed to catch insects.
Money Spinning Plants
The forests of Meghalaya are a rich source of timber. The State
as such is surplus in timber production and the bulk of timber for
trade originates from private forests. Timber trade forms an integral
and vital element in the economy of Meghalaya. Some of the important
tree species, which yield valuable timber for trade are Khasi Pine,
Sal, Teak, Bamboos.
In Meghalaya forests the rubber-yielding plant of Ficus elastica
Roxb. belonging to the family of Moraceae is common.
Lac and Gum are obtained from forests in Meghalaya.
Meghalayan forests offer tremendous scope for sericulture or silk
worm rearing industry.
Meghalaya is famous for its honey, derived mostly from forests
in beehives. Nowadays, honey is being collected in artificial boxes
also, instead of hives on trees.
The major crop plants of Meghalaya are Paddy, Maize, Millets, Pulses,
Potato, Jute and Mesta, Ginger, Turmeric, Black Pepper, Sugar Cane,
Oil Seeds.Both arecanut and betelvine are important cash crops of
the State. Khasis are used to chew betel nuts and betel leaves since
is basically a home of many horticultural plants such as fruit bearing
trees, cultivated fruit bearing plants, citrus varieties of fruits.
Vegetables are grown extensively in the central plateau of the
Khasi Hills with loamy soil and also in the plains of the Garo Hills.
Recently Tea and Coffee are being grown in lands abandoned after
Orchids are highly valued for their fantastic range of variation
and long lasting flowers. Of 17,000 species of orchids in the world,
about 1,250 occur in India, of which nearly 300 are to be found
in Meghalaya. They form a very noticeable element of the vegetation
of the State and these hills have been the classical collection
centres of many celebrated botanists and horticultural plant-collectors.
They are, as a result, becoming scarce and some of the ornamental
species are nearing extinction. The orchids of Meghalaya have distributions
extending upto Sikkim, Bhutan, Nepal, China on one hand and Burma,
Malaya, Thailand on the other. Few species are only confined to
In Cherrapunjee, the two forests - Mawsmai and Mawmluh contain
the highest number of orchid species in the whole region. Sohrarim
is another forest on the way to Cherrapunjee which is paradise of
Botanists. Conservation of orchids is now a matter of universal
concern. There is urgent need to maintain orchid sanctuaries and
special efforts must be made to protect the 'Sacred forests' of
Meghalaya, hitherto preserved by religious sanction alone. 'Orchid
banks' may be created in orchidaria or in forest nurseries by bringing
endangered species from their natural habitat and displaying them
for the public.
Meghalaya is a paradise to the botanists for its variedly rich concentration
of interesting and valuable flora. It is also no less a happy hunting
ground to the zoologists for its interesting, rare and diverse faunal
Meghalaya is considered by many biologists to have been the gateway
through which many species of Indo-Chinese origin, particularly
mammals, migrated to Peninsular India.
In the forests of Meghalaya, specially in lower altitudes, multifarious
species of birds can be seen in abundance. someare Hoopoe, Long
tailed Broadbill, Scarlet Minivet, Burmese Roller , Blue - throated
Barbet, Red-vented Bulbul, Himalayan Black Bulbul.
Besides, hornbills including the Great Indian hornbill, florican,
owl, black drongo and many other birds are also found.Reptile population
in Meghalaya includes lizards and snakes, poisonous and non-poisonous.
Important ones are Indian Cobra, King cobra, Coral Snake, Vipers.
Besides mammals, birds and reptiles, Meghalaya has a number of
amphibians and fishes and insects. Amphibians like frogs, toads
etc. and fishes like rohu, mrigal, kalibaus, puti and many more
of hill stream adaptation are found abundantly in Meghalaya. Among
the insect population, ants, flies, bees, beetles are common.
Meghalaya's butterflies are world famous, among which are Blue
Peacock, the Karserhed, the Orange Oak Leaf, the Dipper, the
Bhutan Glory. It is for this exquisitely diverse, rare and wonderful
animal life that Meghalaya is called a veritable Nature's Wonderland.
Mammals Some species of different families of mammals namely Primates,
the Cats, Civets, Mongooses, Dogs, Bear, Weasels, Bats, Rodents,
Elephants, Gaur, Wild Buffalo, Serow, Deer, Pigs and Pangolins are
seen roaming in the forests of Meghalaya. In Meghalaya we come across
apes as well as monkeys and lemurs. The only type of apes found
in Meghalaya as also in India is Hoolock Gibbon. In Meghalaya, we
have both macaques and langurs. Of the macaques, Rhesus Macaque
and Assamese Macaque are found. The Golden Langur is a very rare
species of Meghalaya and is on the verge of extinction. They inhabit
the evergreen forests of Meghalaya. Among lemurs, the Slow Loris
is found in Meghalaya.
Bulky Body, Subtle Mind
In Meghalaya, there are about 2,000 elephants in the Garo Hills
and 500 in the jungles of the Jaintia Hills. The average height
of an adult Meghalayan mail elephant is about 270 cm. The Wild Buffalo
is also found in Meghalaya.
The Winged Delights
Meghalaya is a happy abode of splendid varieties of butterflies,
which are simply exquisite. Varied climate and multiple plant life
of near temperate to sub-tropical ones as also a richly diverse
topography make Meghalaya a natural storehouse of beautiful butterflies.
About 250 species of butterflies are found in Meghalaya, out of
about 1,000 species seen in India. Some of the exquisite varieties
of butterflies of Meghalaya which are admired all over the world
are: Blue Peacock, the Kaiser-E-Hind, Leafs-Butterfly, the Dipper,
the Bhutan Glory. The Yellow Orange Tip has been recorded from Barapani
during June. The Vagrant has been recorded from Nongpoh during February.
The Common Blue Bottle has been recorded from Cherrapunjee, Mawphlang,
Laitkor and Shillong during July to November. The Red-Breast Jazebel
has been recorded from Nongpoh and Shillong during October.
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