Orchid Overkill

How the New York Botanical Garden is aiding the conservation of one of the oldest plants

By Lauren Craddock and Sofia Quaglia

Orchids are one of the oldest flowering plants on the planet – researchers have discovered orchids that date back to the Jurassic period – and they can be found in nature in over 25,000 species. They are elegant, fragrant, and come in all the colors of the rainbow, except one, black.

They are the national flower of Singapore, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Honduras and Panama.  And now they’re on display at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. As an ode to Singapore, “City in a Garden”  is the 17th annual orchid show.

They have been used and adored by many before us. During the times of the Romans they were eaten as an aphrodisiac, in traditional Chinese medicine they were seen to cure lung illnesses, Confucius wrote a poem detailing their fragrance, and Queen Victoria launched an “orchid mania” by hiring orchid hunters and growers for her palace, according to the American Orchid Society. And did you know that Vanilla actually comes from an orchid?

But due to the increasing threats to the environment, and too many orchid aficionados eradicating the plants from their natural habitats over the decades, even these magnificent and exotic flowers are starting to suffer.

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