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Collection and trade of wild-harvested orchids in Nepal
Naturalis Biodiversity Center, the Netherlands.
Tribhuvan University, Nepal. (Central Department of Botany)
University of Leiden, The Netherlands. (Institute Biology Leiden)
University of Leiden, The Netherlands. (Institute Biology Leiden)
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2013 (English)In: Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, ISSN 1746-4269, Vol. 9, 64- p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


Wild orchids are illegally harvested and traded in Nepal for use in local traditional medicine, horticulture, and international trade. This study aims to: 1) identify the diversity of species of wild orchids in trade in Nepal; 2) study the chain of commercialization from collector to client and/or export; 3) map traditional knowledge and medicinal use of orchids; and 4) integrate the collected data to propose a more sustainable approach to orchid conservation in Nepal.


Trade, species diversity, and traditional use of wild-harvested orchids were documented during field surveys of markets and through interviews. Trade volumes and approximate income were estimated based on surveys and current market prices. Orchid material samples were identified to species level using a combination of morphology and DNA barcoding.


Orchid trade is a long tradition, and illegal export to China, India and Hong Kong is rife. Estimates show that 9.4 tons of wild orchids were illegally traded from the study sites during 2008/2009. A total of 60 species of wild orchids were reported to be used in traditional medicinal practices to cure at least 38 different ailments, including energizers, aphrodisiacs and treatments of burnt skin, fractured or dislocated bones, headaches, fever and wounds. DNA barcoding successfully identified orchid material to species level that remained sterile after culturing.


Collection of wild orchids was found to be widespread in Nepal, but illegal trade is threatening many species in the wild. Establishment of small-scale sustainable orchid breeding enterprises could be a valuable alternative for the production of medicinal orchids for local communities. Critically endangered species should be placed on CITES Appendix I to provide extra protection to those species. DNA barcoding is an effective method for species identification and monitoring of illegal cross-border trade.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. Vol. 9, 64- p.
Keyword [en]
Commercialization, DNA barcoding, Orchids, CITES, Traditional medicine
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-206698DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-9-64ISI: 000324185200001OAI: diva2:645043
Available from: 2013-09-03 Created: 2013-09-03 Last updated: 2013-10-07Bibliographically approved

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de Boer, Hugo J.
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