Sikkim's local name "Denzong"
translates as the valley of rice which is the chief crop of the
state. Basically, Sikkim can be divided into three zones-the,
temperate and the alpine.
The terraced farmlands have rice, maize and barley as the main
crops. Other crops like ginger, potatoes and oranges are also
grown. One of the chief cash crops of the state is larger
cardamom. The jungles in the south district teem with plantains,
bamboo tree ferns, walnut, Sal and oak, while the north abounds
in pine and silver fir.
Sikkim's orchids are world-famous as the state has more than 450
species of them. The colours range from the richest to the
palest in species as varied as Cymbidiums, Vandas, Cattlelyas,
Dendrobiums, Hooheriana, Farmeri and Amoneum. The state flower
is the Nobile Orchid of the Dendrobium.
There are about 36 species of rhododendrons in Sikkim found at
heights of 10,000 ft.Their variety is as diverse as the sizes
and colours. From the giant Rhododendron Crande [over 40ft] to
the Rhododendron Nivale(a few-inches off the ground), and from
the blood red to pale white. The delicate but hardy Primula are
found at heights of 12,000 ft. and above. The Himalayan rhubarb
is a unique feature of this area, standing upright like candles
in the arid vast.
Since the area of Sikkim ranges from the tropical to the alpine,
the flora and fauna is unique in its diversity. Nowhere else on
earth does such a small area comprise of so many species and
varieties. Even the seemingly Himalayan desert landscape in the
North has plethora of wild ducks and wild asses that roam the
The natural wealth of Sikkim has been surveyed in detail by,
among others, Dr J.D. Hooker in the mid 20th century and more
recently by the celebrated ornithologist of India, Dr Salim Ali,
who was also known as the "Birdman".
Sikkim has more than 5000 species of avifauna ranging from the
majestic Bearded Vulture with a wingspan of over 10 ft. to the
Olive Ground Warbler, just a few inches in length. Other
delightful species include the Emerald Dove, woodpeckers,
cuckoos, Kingfishers, and the fairy blue bird.
Sikkim also has more than 600 species of Butterflies many of
them rare and endangered. The forests resound to the bark of the
Barking Deer which shares it's habitat with the adorable little
Red panda [also the state animal]. The Musk Deer, Leopard cats,
and flying squirrels to name a few. The higher regions have Blue
Sheep known commonly as the Bharal, the, Shapi which is similar
to the Himalayan Tahr, the Tibetan Wild Ass, locally known as
the Kyang and the Himalayan Black Bear.