Flora and Fauna
Sikkim can be divided into three zones- the tropical-which is 5000 feet above sea level, the temperate-which is 5000- 11000 feet above sea level and the alpine-which is 11000 feet and above.
Up till 10000 feet, in the tropical zone, there are terraced farmlands in which the rice, maize, barley, and millet are grown. Cardamoms, oranges, apples, potatoes, and ginger are grown in abundance in this state. The jungles in the south have plantains, bamboos, tree ferns, walnut, sal and oak trees. About 600 different species of orchids are found in Sikkim. The most popular species of orchids in Sikkim are Cymbidiums, Vanda, Cattaleya, Hookeriana, Farmeri, Dendrobium Amoenum. The Nobile Orchid of the Dendrobium has been declared as the State Flower of Sikkim.
In the temperate zone, there are oak, chestnut, maple, birch, alder, magnolia and silver fir trees.
In the alpine region of Sikkim, above the height of 10000 feet, about 35 species of Rhododendrons are found. They are diverse in size and color, from the giant Rhododendron Crande, which grows over 40 feet to the Rhododendron Nivale, which grows a few inches above the ground, and from the blood red to pale white. The delicate but hardy Primula are found at heights of 12,000 feet and above. When the Rhododendron flower between the month of April and May, the forests burst with color and it is a sight to behold. The Rhododendron niveum has been declared as the State Tree of Sikkim.
14000 feet and above is a treeless altitude and curious types of flowers in colors of blue, red, violet blossom during summers just a few inches above the ground. The stones and rocks also get colored by lichens and mosses in an unstructured pattern.
Sikkim has more than 5000 species of avifauna ranging from the majestic Bearded Vulture, which has a wingspan of over 10 feet to the Olive Ground-Warbler, which is just a few inches in length. Other species include the Giant Lammergeier Vulture, Emerald Dove, Kingfishers, Whistling Thrush, Minivet, Bulbul, Pheasant, Ashy Woodpecker, Sultan Tit, Emerald Cuckoo and the Fairy Bluebird. Many migratory birds like the Ruddy Shelduck also visit Sikkim. Blood Pheasant is declared as the State Bird of Sikkim.
The forests are home to the Barking Deer which shares its habitat with the adorable little Red Panda, which is the state animal. Musk Deer, Leopard Cats, and Flying Squirrels are also found in the forests. The higher alpine regions have animals like Blue Sheep known commonly as the Bharal, the Shapi which is similar to the Himalayan Tahr and is endangered, the Tibetan Wild Ass, locally known as the Kyang, snow leopards, yaks, and the Himalayan Black Bear.