Kryptostoma intermedium (D.Don) Olszewski & Szlach.
Ochyrorchis intermedia (D.Don) Szlach.
Habenaria intermedia is a perennial orchid growing from a tuberous rootstock with annual stems that can be from 25 - 50cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. Tthe tubers are also harvested in quantity and traded for medicinal use, especially as an ingredient in the popular herbal formula 'Chyavanprash'
In parts of the Himalayas, including Himachal Pradesh, the harvesting of plants from the wild, including this species, for medicinal use is far in excess of the plant's ability to regenerate and many of the species are becoming rare[
E. Asia - Himalayas of Pakistan, India, Nepal, China (Tibet)
Open grassland; at elevations from 2,000 - 3,300 metres[
]. Moist temperate forest, especially of Quercus species, Rhododendron arboreum and Myrica esculenta, preferring open grassland and exposed areas[
Orchids are, in general, shallow-rooting plants of well-drained low-fertility soils. Even those species that grow in bogs tend to be in the drier areas of the bog with plenty of water 15cm or more below soil level. Their symbiotic relationship with a fungus in the soil allows them to obtain sufficient nutrients and be able to compete successfully with other plants. They are very sensitive to the addition of fertilizers or fungicides since these can harm the symbiotic fungus and thus kill the orchid[
Roots - cooked[
]. A sweet flavour, they are boiled and eaten as a vegetable[
]. The ellipsoid tubers are around 15 - 30mm long and 10 - 20mm wide[
Tender young leaves - cooked. Used as a vegetable[
Habenaria intermedia is one of a group of eight plants, known collectively as 'Astavarga' in India, whose underground parts are seen in Ayurveda as general tonics that can strengthen the vital force in the body, improve cell regeneration capacity and boost the immune system. They can each be used on their own, and they are also used in the preparation of different types of rejuvenating tonics in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. One of the most important of these is 'Chyavanprash', a polyherbal formulation comprising more than 50 different plant ingredients, which is widely used in India as a general tonic, energy booster, immune system strengthener and aphrodisiac[
The tubers are anthelmintic, aphrodisiac, appetizer, depurative, emollient, expectorant, refrigerant and tonic. They have a sweet flavour and are said to have a rejuvenating effect on the body; to promote logevity and also to improve the intellect[
]. They are used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including coughs, fevers, asthma, leprosy and other skin diseases, general debility, emaciation, anorexia, cataplexy, insanity, gout and internal parasites[
The plant is an effective antioxidant, mainly due to the presence of various phenolic compounds, such as gallic acid, hydroxyl benzoic acid, catechin, and coumaric acid[
Seed - surface sow, preferably as soon as it is ripe, in the greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. The seed of this species is extremely simple, it has a minute embryo surrounded by a single layer of protective cells. It contains very little food reserves and depends upon a symbiotic relationship with a species of soil-dwelling fungus. The fungal hyphae invade the seed and enter the cells of the embryo. The orchid soon begins to digest the fungal tissue and this acts as a food supply for the plant until it is able to obtain nutrients from decaying material in the soil[
]. It is best to use some of the soil that is growing around established plants in order to introduce the fungus, or to sow the seed around a plant of the same species and allow the seedlings to grow on until they are large enough to move.
Division in autumn. The plant is very intolerant of root disturbance, any moving or dividing should be attempted in the autumn, keep a large ball of soil around the plant[