A remarkable feature of biodiversity of Sri Lanka is high proportion of endemic
flowering species. Sri Lanka has 23% of endemic flowering plants. None of the
religious or cultural festival of Sri Lanka ends without flowers. After British
rule, floriculture came up as a hobby in almost all parts of Sri Lanka;
especially, 1970 marked the benchmark, for floriculture to be started as an
National Flower of Sri Lanka
The Nil Mahanel is the national flower of Sri Lanka. It was declared so on 26th
of February, 1986. Botanically, it is known as Nympheae Stellata. This flower
traces its origin in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit literary compositions. The other
names for it are ‘Kuvalaya’, ’Indhewara’, ’Niluppala’, ’Nilothpala’ and ’Nilupul’.
This flower occupies a prominent position in Buddhist literature as well. It was
observed that footprint of prince Siddharth bore the design of Nil Mahanel.
Shallow waters are conducive to the growth of Nil Mahanel. It is purplish blue
with a cluster of petals in middle. The Nil Mahanel is believed to epitomize
discipline, purity, and truth.
Area under the influence of Floriculture
The floriculture industry in Sri Lanka is divided into three categories: large
ventures on commercial basis (export), middle-level producers corresponding to
local market, villagers selling their produce to either of the two
above-mentioned categories. At present around 500 hectares comprise of
floriculture. Out of this area,10 ha comprise of carnations,3 ha of roses,2 ha
of gerberas,10 ha of anthuriums,3 ha of orchids and 472 ha of foliage plants.
So, foliage plants dominate the market.
Large-scale producers cultivate ornamental foliage plants in collaboration with
foreign companies, using advanced techniques. Cut flowers are cultivated by
middle level and village level producers. Therefore, these people cater to the
local demand and only extra are exported occasionally. However, carnations are
exceptionally grown for export.
Production of material used for planting
Seeds of many annul such as asters, petunias, impatiens, phlox and verbenas are
produced for export under special green house provisions. Generally, stem
cuttings, rooted or unrooted are exported as floriculture planting materials.
Bulbs, corm and tubers are in great demand abroad.
Potential for development of Cut flower manufacturing
Sri Lanka has a splendid climate for cut flower production. Moreover, land
availability and high literacy rate would prove to be an added advantage. Also,
tax benefits and BOI incentives provided by government would attract a lot of
investors to start business transactions. The measures such as agronomy,
pathology, entomology, mutation, breeding, post harvest and mass propagation are
in the pipeline.
Inadequacies and high overheads, improper research and development facilities,
less number of trained personnel, large investment initially, inefficient
marketing, illiteracy regarding pesticides, certificate of phytosanitary
clearance are the primary constraints in cut flower production development.
Cut flowers in Sri Lanka
Temperate cut flowers
They are cultivated in the temperate zone. They are inclusive of rose,
carnation, gypsophyla, statice, chrysanthemum, irises. Roses and Carnations are
primly grown for exports. The imported plant material is used for these
cultivations. Others are grown to fulfill the demands of local population.
Mediterranean along with America is the main regions where the demands are the
highest. Pink, white, yellow, red, and salmon colors are very popular. Some of
the other which is gaining popularity is the striped and the frosted types.
American cultivars are red barron, bagatelle, Barbara, else. Mediterranean
cultivars are lena, tanga, bora.
After carnations, roses are in queue. Popular colors are red-50%, pink-30%,
Tropical cut flowers
The tropical cut flowers are grown for exports. These can be cultivated at about
1500 meters above the bare level of the sea. Annual production accounts to about
flowers of about 3 million categories. Exports are not carried out much.
Plantations takes place under structures provided with shade nets or the poly
tunnels. The traditionally available material is used for providing shade
levels. Tropical orchids are suitable to grow in conditions which are warm and
upto 500 meters above sea level. Western province is conducive for growth of
orchids. The cultivation of orchids takes place on the hectares of land.
Gerberas are drawing attention now days. Tissue culture is used to grow
gerberas. About 2 hectares of land is under cultivation of gerberas.
Methods of conservation
The basic problem with Sri Lanka is its geography. It’s an island, so the
endemic plants cannot be planted in the coastal area. Big perennial trees have
to be planted to avert soil erosion. Special heed should be paid to projects
dealing with green revolution. Social awareness is very much essential, so that
every person can individually take care of the national vegetation. Effective
measures of nature conservation in officially declared protected areas would
help conserve forests. Declaration of new protected areas in wet zone would help
curb the dilapidation of flora of Sri Lanka. Further encroachment should be
prevented on wet zone rainforests.