Sunday, March 19, 2006

Madeiran Orchid

Did you know the word orchid is derrived from the latin orchis meaning testicle? Apparently this stems back to the shape of some of the pseudobulbs of one of the European species. This is Dactylorhiza foliosa. Unlike most of the world's orchids including the species you see in florists and garden centres it is not a tree-dwelling epiphyte. Dactylorhiza are terrestrial species and are/were common across Europe. Culture techniques are only now developing to the point where terrestrial species can be mass produced but Dactylorhiza foliosa is leading the charge due to its obvious beauty. This species spreads very well when established but the trick is to produce individual plants as these are very difficult from seed.

Labs like this one are now starting to come up with the goods and I suspect a range of beautiful orchids will become a more common sight in gardens in suburbs around Europe. In wild places where orchids are established they tend to do well but if the habitat is degraded they can disappear quickly. As a result these developments in culture are good not only for gardeners but also for potential reintroductions.

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