Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Orchid Festival - Cambridge Botanic Gardens

The Orchid Festival takes place at
Cambridge University Botanic Gardens till Feb 28th.

'Orchid' comes from the Greek word 'orchis' meaning testicle. 
This is due to the shape of the tuberous root.

The orchid family is the largest of any flowering plant with over 26,000 varieties having been discovered (so far). There are at least another 100,000 cultivars bred by horticulturalists.

New varieties of orchid are still being discovered at the rate of around 200 every year, 
mostly as tropical forest is opened up by new road building.

There is an orchid named 'Aa'. 
The man who discovered it, Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach, 
wanted it to come first in alphabetical listings.

Orchid flowers are bilaterally symmetrical like the human face. 
This could be part of the reason for their popularity.

Orchids grow in every country in the world and every habitat except dry deserts and glaciers.

Pollen from an ancient orchid was discovered on a bee which had been preserved in amber. 
It was dated as over 10 million years old. 

Orchids have the tiniest seeds in the world 
and there may be as many as 3 million seeds in a single seed pod. 

Orchid seeds contain no endosperm, that is they have no nutrition within the seed. 
They therefore have to meet up with a specific fungus in order to germinate.

Vanilla essence comes  from the seed pods of Vanilla planifolia.
It's not only an extremely valuable commodity but was also the £1-million pound answer for the first winner of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?!

Orchids could once only be owned by the seriously wealthy.
Nowadays they are the most popular house plant in the world.
I think you can see why.

Take care.


  1. Loved your post John. These orchids are gorgeous and I was amazed by the bee discovered in Amber.

  2. What a fact filled post! I might use that first fact myself. Orchids are stunning, in a class all to their own. We had a show here last weekend and my wife went (I was unable to) to get some photos. I really expected her to bring home a plant or two but she didn't. What she has now is enough she said.

  3. Lovely. Do you grow them?

  4. They are some of the most incredible blooms. My mother always had a few around. (Aa, or rather 'a'a, is also a Hawaiian word - for a type of lava flow:)

  5. I enjoyed this post - great photos and interesting facts too.

  6. Did not know that orchids were bilateral. They certainly have colors that "pop." Nice shots -- barbara

  7. Beautiful pics of these wonderful orchids. It makes me ask myself why I've never grown them.

  8. You captured some lovely specimens here -I really like the lilac/purple/white one. I used to think they would be difficult to grow until I got a supermarket one and now I'm hooked.

  9. Beautiful images, John, and once more you have been a fount of knowledge. The drop in orchid prices has occurred during our lives. When I was younger, they seemed rare and were quite expensive. Now, they stand in rows outside the grocery store and are no more expensive than poinsettia in Christmas season.

  10. Some of your loveliest photos yet--they glow! Such a joy to see in the dark of winter.

    I have had some orchids over the years--a few that had fragrance, and am nursing one along in the house right now named brassavola nodosa.

    Have you ever read the Orchid Thief? a wonderful true story about orchid obsession.

  11. I have one orchid, a gift from our sister-in-law who lives in Hawaii. I have kept it alive over the years, but it never really flourishes. Right now it has four flower buds. So I may have it finally in the right place to get just enough sunlight, but not too much. I think they are lovely, beautiful, finicky, and other-worldly. Love your photos here. Great post!

  12. I had no idea orchids needed a specific fungus to germinate. Fascinating! Lovely colours!

  13. Beautiful photos and flowers and so much interesting information. The flower section of our village grocery store is full of orchids right now, awaiting Valentine's Day they tell me.

  14. This must have been a heaven for photographers equipped with a macro lens - as you seem to have been on some of them. A real colour-show.
    BTW: Aa in Scandinavia is single letter (Å) - and comes at the end of the alphabet ...

  15. I love orchids and was told to treat them like a cactus. This has always worked and I have a couple that flower for six months and then die back before coming to life again for another six months. Amazing, beautiful plants and fantastic shots of them John.

  16. I have felt some orchids have a unique face in its center. I’ll never be tired of seeing various different varieties of orchids. Thanks for this informative post and sharing those orchids in such lovely colors and shapes. I like the sixth image.



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