Monday, March 12, 2007

Orchids again

The image is swiped from Wikipedia, from a German biologist called Von Haekel. I love the use of the Orchids here as art. Indeed his illustrated book was called "Artforms of Nature".
I have ordered a book from Amazon which I will review here when it is delivered.
My Orchid research has been brief.I know there are 800 Genus, and between 25 to 30,000 species of Orchids.
The technical detail I read went over my head a bit.Next stop a botany course lol.I have studied A'level biology already.Maybe a degree in Botany?
These plants exist in every continent except Antartica. They grow in Europe, Asia, America, Latin and south America, Africa, Australasia..
The picture has some of the features of the Orchid I photographed at work yesterday.
I found the Northern England Orchid Society website.
They are so mad looking the plants that its easy to see how they are intoxicating.
The history goes back thousands of years to the ancient greeks and before that, and crosses cultures with mentions in Japenese, and Chinese culture.
Theophrastus wrote about Orchids in 300 BC as he described characteristics of the plants calling them Orchis, which is now the family name; Orchidaceea.
I guess this is not suprising since they are so wide spread. After my recent Dutch Tulip post I read that today Hybrid Orchids are being traded, much like the 17th century stock exchange with tulip bulbs.The flower with colour and maybe scent is the commodity. The intrinsic value is the plant itself, with one exception (vanilla).
Wild Orchids are now protected species too, and the legislation around their import into countries is regulated. Even Hybrids are included in the protection.Its probably hard to tell which are wild species and which are hybrids.
The most suprising discovery for me was that Vanilla is the only Orchid grown for production of a specific product. Mainly in Madagascar, an island Darwin would have loved!
Its mad how one photographed plant could generate all the information from history, to botany, to world conservation, to art.
The Northern England orchid society used to paint the prize winning Orchids, and have a collection of 700 paintings.The shape of the flowers, and the colouration means they really are art forms of nature.Amazing colours!!

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