I had a chance to take these photos while on a trip in Sri Lanka at the Kandy Royal Botanical Gardens. These amazing flowers always seem to fascinate with their luxurious beauty.
Orchid family is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with more than 26000 currently accepted species. The number of orchid species equals more than twice the number of birds species and about four times the number of mammal species. For some reason , before finding all these facts, I had the impression that orchids were rare tropical amazingly beautiful flowers. It turns out that , while the highest concentration of orchid varieties is found at the tropics, they are also found in Europe and temperate Asia, North America and even colder climates like above the Arctic Circle in Southern Patagonia and close to Antarctica on Macquarie Island.
The name Orchid comes from the Greek “orkhis” that literally means “testicles”, because of the shape of the root . Carl Linnaeus , a Swedish botanist, physicist and zoologist , categorized the family as Orchidaceae . The term Ochid was introduced by an English botanist called John Lindley trough an incorrect attempt to extract the Latin stem (orchis) from Orchidaceae.
In Greek mythology , the origin of the plant is explained by the myth of Orchis. He, the son of a nymph and a satyr, came upon a festival of Dionysios (Bacchus) in the forest. He drank too much, and attempted to rape a priestess of Dionysios. For his insult, he was torn apart by the Bacchanalians. His father prayed for him to be restored, but the gods instead changed him into a flower.
The orchid flower has a wide variety of meanings like Love, Beauty, Refinement, Beautiful Lady, Thoughtful, Maturity, Charm . In Chinese culture, the orchid symbolizes nobleness and tenacity of character. and it is considered to be one of the “The Four Noble Ones” (in Chinese art it refers to four plants : the orchid, the bamboo, the chrysanthemum and the plum blossom ). Confucius is believed to have developed a special love for the orchid. He thought of the orchid as a flower of noble character , as he wrote in “Confucius’ Family Dialogue” that “The orchids grow in the woods and they let out their fragrance even if there is no one around to appreciate it. Likewise, men of noble character will not let poverty deter their will to be guided by high principles and morals”.
I was surprised to find out that we use the dried seed pods of one orchid genus in our everyday life and we, or at least I didn’t had a clue. That is also one of the most common flavors we use in baking. I am talking about Vanilla . Yes…Vanilla comes from an orchid…!!!
There is much more to write about these amazingly beautiful flowers, but I will stop here to avoid this post from being way too long and boring .