The Orchid originates from Greece (orchis). Some other names for orchids are Long Purples, Ladies’ Fingers, and Ladies’ Tresses. It was thought by Greek women that if a pregnant mother ate the small tubers they would have a baby girl, and if the father at the large new tubers, then their unborn child would be a boy.
There are over 25,000 varieties of orchids. One of the most famous orchids is the vanilla orchid. It was said to give strength to the Aztecs who would drink vanilla mixed with chocolate.
Orchids have been symbolized for love, beauty and luxury over many centuries. Orchids have also been used all the way back in the middle ages for remedies to a number of illnesses.
Orchid gardening and the collecting and care of orchids became an interest in the 18th century. Orchids were considered flowers of the wealthy and were studied by a few botanists including a man name William Cattley. It was Cattley who changed all this – and there is an orchid name after him, the Cattleya orchid. Cattley discovered that after re-potting the plant, it would blossom producing a beautiful and very fragrant flower.
According to some orchid books, it was in the late nineteenth century that orchids were being harvested in Europe without any consideration for saving them. There were areas, particularly in England, that were devastated by this harvesting. All orchids were picked, sold, and the fields were barren. There was no conservation at this time.
However, today the harvesting of most wild orchids is for the most part banned. There are some reputable orchid growers who reproduce them in greenhouses to sell. Scientific studies and advancement have produced methods for creating over 110,000 different hybrids of the beautiful orchid.