There was a moment in time when rich and well educated men would literally risk their lives to acquire (or acquire more) of these very rare and sought after flowers. The Orchid craze, which penetrated high society, is a testament to the beauty and elegance of these flowers.
Nowadays due to advances in Orchid growing hybrid species have been able to make the most gorgeous of flowers readily available. However their history as one of the oldest flowers on earth is steeped with beauty and adventure.
The Greek word Orchis is the origin of the name Orchid and when translated means testicles. This may seem like an odd name but it is due to the shape of the Orchids roots. Orchids throughout history have been valued highly; they have been used in medicine as well as added to food for flavoring, with the most obvious example being the Vanilla plant (V. Planifolia).
With huge greenhouses to grow the Orchids and numerous Orchid Hunters searching through the jungles, looking for rare and difficult to find Orchids, it’s not hard to see how popular Orchids were in times gone by.
A symbol of the well off and upper class during the 19th century the Orchid became an invaluable resource for trade across the European continent.
Deforestation at a time when Orchids were extremely popular only added to the rarity and therefore value of these flowers. Thankfully it was the botanist William Cattley who was able to make the Orchid a permanent fixture amongst the most gorgeous flowers of the world. Discovering the Orchid being used as packing in a delivery of various exotic plants that he received Cattley was credited with creating a hybrid of the now named Cattleya Orchid. He also found that it was possible to plant Orchids, that would blossom, in the month of November.
It was Dr. John Lindley that was able to further the methods used by Cattley and he even named the first hybrid of the Cattleya family Cattleya Labiata after its creator.
Now the methods used to grow and care for Orchids are at a stage where it has become illegal to hunt for Orchids in the wild. Even though not nearly as rare as they have been in past history Orchids are still thought of as beautiful and luxurious plants, which I’m sure will not surprise you.