Flagships of Manipur
SHIRUI LILY : A flagship flower of Manipur
(Lilium macklineae Sealy, local name Kashong Timrawon)
Shirui lily (Lilium macklineae Sealy, local name Kashong Timrawon, belongs to family Liliaceae) is one of the rare species of terrestrial lily grown naturally only on the top of Shirui Kashong peak, the Siroi National Park (November 1982), near Shirui village of Ukhrul district of Manipur state. It was locally called 'Kashongwon' ('Kashong' being the name of the Peak and 'won' means flower), but re-christened as 'Kashong Timrawon' after a British Botanist, Frank Kingdon Ward discovered it as a rare and unique lily in 1946(ref. Manipur State Govt. notification dated the 21st march,1989 Notification ). It is a modest and shy-looking enchanting lily.
According to legends of Shirui, the fairy Princess 'Kashong Philava' who owns the Kashong peak and its flora and fauna protects the peak. The Tangkhul ancestors, for ages revered this as a sacred mountain. It is their belief that all the dead souls passes through these mountain ranges and in the midnight, they could see a line of procession lighting pine torches moving towards the land of the dead. Snowfall on the peak is regarded as a symbol and indication of prosperity in the particular season. Another belief is that if one makes a wish by standing on the Shirui Kashong Peak, the wish gets fulfilled.
The Natural Habitat:
Shirui Kashong peak (94. 78° E - 25.68° N) is located about 15 Km east of the District Headquarters . The peak is the highest point of the Shirui ranges which covers a total geographical area of 56 sq.km. In last few decades, there were reports for the heaviest snowfall at Shirui Kashong during mid-December to February, locally known as Horam Day. But, now it experiences for mild snowfall only at the region.
Shirui Kashong has three divisible portions namely Shongrei (highest & bigger part), Shongrah (lower & smaller part) and Sarumkateng (where wild animals occasionally appear for play or recreation). The garden point which is located at an altitude of about 2986 metres above MSL is endowed with a salubrious climate. The annual rainfall is about 2020 mm with temperature ranging from 0° C to 23° C.
Seven rivers originates from this peak, namely Singuira (Shang) Kong (Kong stand for a river ), Namra Kong,Khokthi Kong,Maret Kong,Yangui Kong,Patik Kong and Ngayaisari Kong. The number of rivers that originates here coincides with the number of colours of the lily observed on close viewing.
The ground is covered with thick carpet of humus. The soil is cherry-red in colour which is derived from the parent ultramafic rocks found exposed in the area. The rocks are composed essentially of iron and magnesium rich minerals like olivine, pyroxene and serpentine derived from them.
The Man Who Discovered the Majestic Lily:
Kingdon Ward discovered the Shirui lily on his second assignment to Ukhrul for Botanical Society discovered and presented the rarest flower in the flower-show conducted by the Royal Horticulture Society and bagged the coveted award of merit in England in 1950.
Feature of Shirui Lily:
It is a seasonal flower and its peak season of blooming is from May second week to June second week. The flower is a small, subterranean herb whose bulb is broadly obovoid and pale yellow or light pinkish in colour. Its beauty lies in its bell shaped petals in bowing down position like a modest girl. The height of the plant is between 1 to 3 ft. and blooms solitary or upto 9 flowers per plant. Leaves are many and are linear elliptic. Perianth segments, oblong lanceolate, white or purple outside the carmine at the base. Staments included and erect. Filaments are white, anther is oblonged and brick red in colour. Pistil is green and included. Ovary is sessile. Capsule is broadly obovoid and truncate at apex.
Shirui Kashong is clad with various kinds of flowers throughout the year. More than 150 herbaceous flowering plants including rare orchids and Rhododendrons bloom around the year on the grassy slopes of Shirui Kashong. In between the second and third peak, seven rhododendrons species including white variety and various multicolored flowering annuals littered the ground in profusion. Another unique feature of the peak is the thriving of thousands of shade less white flowers locally known as Horam won (Snow flower) cover the peak as a snow peak. Other than these, wild roses, epiphytic ferns, trees ferns, wild azaleas of several kinds and orchids are also common.