Sunday, September 18, 2011
I will start off with some of the orchids we've seen so far. We've seen a lot, so I may break this up over a couple of entries...
The Ubiquitous Brassovola Nodosa (this plant is everywhere in the lowlands of Central America)
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Here are some orchids in situ, growing on a tree in the ruins of Tikal in Guatemala. I think they are maxillaria variabilis, or possibly Maxillaria tenuifolia, but I'm not sure.
Here is a picture of the ruins...
Here is a close up of a tree, with several orchid species and other epiphytes.
This is an oncidium growing near the Guatemala border. This is probably Oncidium Sphacelatum.
there are two orchids here. This was at the Belize Botanic Gardens, which really deserves its own post. The one in the background is a Maxillaria, possibly variabilis.
This was someone's orchid stall at the weekly market in San Ignacio Belize. In the foreground you can see a Rhynchostylis and there are a lot of cattleya and phalaenopsis hybrids on display.
I will post more pictures of interesting orchids and plants from the trip over the next week.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
And here is some new flowers getting ready to emerge on this encyclia. These will look like little yellow octopi. To the right is the one that is already in bloom.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
Saturday, December 9, 2006
Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy
Eric Hansen’s book Orchid Fever: A Horticultural Tale of Love, Lust and Lunacy, is an exciting introduction to the world of orchid smuggling and conservation legislation. He begins the book with a critical tone, always eager to make fun of any unsuspecting orchid fanatic he stumbles upon. I read the first few chapters with a cringing smirk. His writing is at times witty and he compares orchid people to their plants in much the way one looks at pictures of people with their dogs to see how much they resemble one another.
It really seems that Hansen’s biggest skill is making orchid people sound like old lascivious plant-o-philes. During his five years of extensive research for the book, he attended a great variety of orchid shows. He always describes these as obscene carnal peep shows, where orchids parade in front of drooling spectators. Here is an example of one such description from an orchid show he attended in
"Mmmmmm…luscious…,” someone gasped nearby. One slide showed a large vini-colored paphiopedilum madiae-type hybrid. “I’m in love!” Cried out a woman. “I’ll take it,” declared an elderly male voice from somewhere in the back. (35)Aside from literally describing orchid shows as adult theaters, Hansen also tends to describe orchid flowers in great detail, comparing them with their counterparts in human genitalia. Despite the books misrecognition of orchid appeal, his descriptions are evocative and very sensual.
About mid-way through the book takes a sudden turn and Hansen becomes obsessed with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) regulations on transporting endangered plant material. In what seems like an obvious rhetorical moves Hansen “goes native” and falls in love with his subjects. This is where the book becomes far more interesting. Hansen has talked to some of the major orchid Nurserymen and women. He exposes the hypocrisy at the root of the CITES regulations and the need for a different approach to orchid conservation.
His concern is primarily with Paphiopedilum orchids. He makes a strong case for the need to revise laws that prevent one from harvesting and transporting orchids before they are crushed under the wheels of bulldozers. In his opinion the CITES regulations are designed with an antiquated breed of Victorian orchid hunters in mind. Instead, today’s greatest orchid threat lies in mass urban and suburban development, slash and burn farming and overall depletion of orchid habitats worldwide. Small scale harvesting from threatened environments could lead to mass propagation strategies and the best way to save endangered jungle species is to prevent deforestation by setting aside preserves and sanctuaries. This can also be aided by bolstering local economies, so that they are not reliant on slash-and-burn agriculture and putting into place incentives that discourage massive deforestation and pollution: in my opinion.
Orchid Fever is a good introduction to orchid conservation. Each chapter is introduced with a wonderful orchid sketch and Hansen seems to have a vested interest in finding the depths of the orchid world. Despite his protestations, I would be surprised if Hansen did not keep at least one or two orchids in his apartment. I might be wrong, but I think that if you check under his mattress you’ll find a few glossy paphiopedilum pictures as well.