Guest Author - Karen Stewart
Orchids have had an exotic and mystical allure for thousands of years. In the Chinese culture, the orchid was known as the "plant of the King's Fragrance". Its aroma was legendary and much sought-after.
In the Greek culture, orchids were known to bring about virility and fertility. They were sought after in the homes of newlyweds.
The Middle Ages was very focussed on herbs and flowers, and orchids were no exception. No doctor of the time would be caught without orchids. Amongst other uses, the orchid was known to be an extremely powerful aphrodisiac.
Orchids became a force in the flower world in 1818, with William Cattley. He had received some orchids as packing material around the actual flowers he ordered. He decided on a whim to see what these other plants would do if cared for. The first Cattleya bloomed, and suddenly the entire world became orchid-crazed.
Suddenly entire native populations of orchids were destroyed as collectors ravaged them. Many orchids became endangered or extinct. Modern day collectors work hard to care for these populations, and collecting of wild orchids is pretty much banned.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of orchids and how they have grown in popularity through the years, you might be interested in a book entitled The Orchid in Lore and Legend by Luigi Berliocchi.