Sunken Gardens, St. Petersburg's botanical wonderland, will welcome orchid growers today from far and wide showing and selling thousands of the enigmatic epiphytics.
Lectures throughout the day during the annual Orchid Festival will offer information on Central Florida species; pests and diseases; repotting and mounting orchids and Cattleya, Oncidium and Vanda cultures.
Also check out the new orchid items in the gift shop.
The beauty and diversity of orchids have fascinated people for ages. Confucius compared the pleasure of seeing good friends to entering a room full of lan or fragrant orchids.
There is no such thing as a typical orchid. Orchids range in size from plants only an inch high with very tiny flowers to vines up to 50 feet long with flowers a foot across.
Orchidacae is probably the largest flowering plant family with approximately 30,000 wild species and many man-made hybrids. They grow everywhere from tropical jungles to arctic regions.
The largest, showiest, and most bizarre orchids occur in the tropics in nearly every hue from soft-muted tones to pure brilliant colors; from solid shades to bizarre multicolored patterns. They vary in scent from the delicate spicy fragrance of vanilla to offensive smells of decay. Some orchids have no scent at all and some are scented only at certain times of the day.
For centuries they have served as symbols of love, beauty and luxury; an aphrodisiac that was one of the main ingredients in love potions. Greeks believed they were a symbol of virility and they were used in herbal remedies in the middle ages. Orchids may be one of the closest living relative to the first flowering plant according to National Geographic.
By the beginning of the 18th century, collecting orchids was practiced in many parts of the world. Today, the collecting of orchids in the wild is banned and many orchids are endangered.