No doubt, the orchid is considered as a unique plant that has a lot of meaning. Today, it is seen in many gardens, homes and it is used as bouquets for weddings and other anniversaries. This flowering plant is indeed worth peering into. If you are a lover of the orchids, perhaps knowing its history and symbolisms will increase your love for the different species available today. Orchids have some interesting facts that one should know about in order to grow and maintain them. Let us quickly take a look at the brief history of orchids.
Brief History of orchids
The Orchid family is one of the most diverse and widespread family of flowering plants that has its existence thousands of years ago. In 1845, the word “orchid” was derived from the Greek word testicles (orkhis), in response to the appearance of its roots. Orchids can be traced back to the era of dinosaurs and many Chinese written medical texts have proved that it existed back in the 28th century BC. Such writings have referred to the orchids with many meanings. In 551-479BC, Confucius referred to the orchid as the “the king of fragrant plants. From these writings, orchid symbolizes friendship, love, perfection, numerous progeny, retirement and all other things. The same Japanese and Chinese literatures written around 700BC reveals the importance of the orchids and how it is can be used as an herbal cure for different illnesses.
In Europe, the discovery of orchids was credited to Cortez. Cortez was a treasure hunter who made his first visit to Mexico in the year 1519 while searching for Gold. When he arrived, the Aztecs offered him a vanilla flavoured cacao drink to refresh himself. Interestingly, vanilla extract comes from the orchid vanilla, which serves as a healing herb, perfume and an aphrodisiac. Vanilla is still in use especially in Mexico where it was originally grown. It is also grown in other parts of the world including Madagascar.
The orchid made its appearance in the United Kingdom in the late 1700’s where it was imported from West Indies and China. During this period, 15 species including the Vanilla orchid were growing in the royal botanical garden in London. It was very difficult to maintain the growth of these species because of the new climate they were introduced to. Keeping them in good condition was a great ordeal. This led to further study of this amazing plant by Jean Linden in 1845. He travelled to South and Central America just to study their natural environment and how he can create such environment in the English soil. There was a little progress, but many merchants were still losing out because some of the species could not survive.
Dr. Salisbury’s studies were crucial in the germination of the orchid in London. From his studies, much was learnt and this enabled the industry to make progress. Further experiments were made to see if more species could be grown on the land. To this end, Vietch first tried to cross different species in 1853. Around 1856, the first orchid hybrid was created and this was when many hybrids sprang into existence.
Presently, there are over 100, 000 hybrids in existence. Many people now appreciate this special family of flowering plants and they want to learn how it is grown. Well, growing these wonderful plants is no longer an issue. It is grown in almost all parts of the earth. It can be grown indoors and outdoors provided the environmental conditions are met. In most cases, orchids are grown in pots or flower vases filled with well-drained soil.
Orchids symbolize different things. In the ancient world, the Japanese, Chinese and Greek believe that orchids can determine the sex of the unborn fetus. This means if the man consumes large tubers of an orchid plant, the child will be a boy and if the women consumes more than the man, the child will be a girl. This and many more of its symbolisms gave rise to its demands. Merchants who deal in orchid plants have made a fortune selling them. Orchids also became popular gifts for married couples who are expecting a baby. The orchid plants are also linked to other things like beauty, love, and luxury.