Think you can tell the difference between an orchid and a praying mantis? Or an orchid and a sugar flower? Here are six fun facts on Orchidaceae—one of the largest, most diverse, and most beloved of all plant families.
A beautiful, edible orchid in an ice sphere adorns this cocktail from chef Daniel Boulud, via marthastewart.com
Why, yes, that's an orchid in my cocktail
Noted French chef Daniel Boulud paired with a mixologist to come up with a white cosmopolitan recipe that calls for elderflower liqueur and a frozen orchid sphere.
The “aromatic” Platanthera obtusata. Photo by Jason Hollinger [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
File this under “orchids are clever”
Researchers have discovered that a bog orchid (Platanthera obtusata) lures its pollinator—tiger mosquitoes—by giving off a smell similar to human body odor.
Sugar Cymbidium orchid by Robert Haynes. Photo ©Tony Harris
Have your orchid and eat it, too
London-based sugar artist Robert Haynes specializes in creating, and teaching others how to make, “botanically correct sugar flowers.”
Entomologists are studying the evolution of a praying mantis that looks like an orchid. The female Malaysian orchid mantis (Hymenopus coronatus) attracts orchid pollinators such as bees—and then eats them.
Get a really special orchid for a loved one…
(Your name here) orchid
A Virginia orchid grower will register a new orchid hybrid in your name with the Royal Horticultural Society (the official international register) for $1,500.
Out-of-sight, out-of-mind until bloom time
Orchid boarding school
Some nurseries will care for your orchids if you’re busy or on vacation, or simply prefer to have experts raise them until the plants are ready to bloom. “As your orchid begins to send up a bloom spike, it is tenderly staked and tied, ready to return to you as it comes into bloom,” says Hamilton Orchids & Plantscapes in Sonoma, California.