Dehradun: The country’s largest open air fernery was inaugurated at Ranikhet in Uttarakhand’s Almora district on Sunday by well-known expert on ferns Nilambar Kunetha, an official said. The fernery has been developed by the research wing of Uttarakhand Forest Department over a period of three years under the Centre’s compensatory afforestation scheme CAMPA.
It has a collection of 120 different types of fern with only Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI), Thiruvananthapuram having a larger number of fern species, Chief Conservator of Forest (Research) Sanjiv Chaturvedi said.
However, it is the country’s largest open air fernery with completely natural surroundings, he said.
It has been developed over four acres with Ranikhet providing an ideal location for an open air fernery.
The fernery has been developed at an altitude of 1,800 metres in a shaded area with a seasonal pahadi nala passing through it, providing adequate moisture as ferns require shade and moisture to grow and propagate.
It has a mix of species from the western and eastern Himalayan regions as well as from Western Ghats. It houses many rare species, prominent among which are Tree Fern (Cyathea spinulosa) which has been declared as “threatened” by State Biodiversity Board of Uttarakhand.
Only a few plants of this species are left in the wild and is considered one of the most ancient species of fern. It is said that herbivore dinosaur used to feed on its trunk which is rich in starch. PTI