Orchids for Dessert

Posted April 16th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Videos

I’ve blogged several times about the world’s most delicious orchid, vanilla. But did you know that there are other edible orchids? One of the most popular orchid foods is salep, or sahlep. In Turkey and the lands of the former Ottoman Empire, the roots of Mediterranean orchids are milled into flour, and added to ice cream in warm weather, and hot drinks in wintertime.

Salep is traditionally made from the tubers, or thickened roots, of the orchis family. The Early Purple Orchid, or Orchis mascula, is one of the most common sources. Harvested from wild orchid populations, the tubers are made into starchy flour. This is added to water or milk to make ice cream, and flavored with pistachio, apricot, vanilla, or peach. When added to hot water or milk, it’s often flavored with cinnamon.

I’ve never had the opportunity to try salep, but others describe it as tasting sweet, nutty, and earthy. Orchid ice cream has an elastic texture that stays frozen longer than regular ice cream. In the videos below, salep vendors in Turkey entertain their customers.

To learn more, check out this authentic salep recipe. You can also read a tale of buying salep in Turkey, including a photo of dried orchid tubers. Salon explores orchid ice cream and salep’s Turkish birthplace.

A Floating Orchid Forest

Posted April 9th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Videos

Looking to relax? How about a calming visit to floating orchid forest? Tokyo’s Miraikan Museum has just what you need. As guests walk though the exhibit in the video below, computers gently raise and lower thousands of living orchids hanging from the ceiling. It’s reminiscent of the lush beauty of Avatar, and I’m sure it’s full of wonderful fragrances, too.

If you can emerge from the trance of this dreamy video, you may notice that these orchids are bare-root, not potted at all. Hanging in the air is very familiar for these air plants, although they are typically attached to trees, not the ceiling. As long as they have water, good humidity, and a little fertilizer, this exhibit could continue to live, grow, and bloom indefinitely. However, this floating dance of flowers, leaves, and roots only runs until May 10th. Read more about the exhibit here.

Orchids at the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley

Posted April 6th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

It’s easy to spend a whole day enjoying the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley. Established in 1890, it has one of the largest and most diverse plant collections in the country, spread over 34 acres (13.8 hectares) of gardens and greenhouses. Among the botanical treasures, there are many unusual orchid species, which are rotated through the displays as they come into bloom. These beauties were a few of the highlights of our visit last month.

Masdevallia ignea, orchid species, red orange and yellow flower, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseBulbophyllum species, red yellow and purple cluster of flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseDendrochilum glumaceum, orchid species, long chains of fragrant white flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant House

Porroglossum teaguei, mini orchid species, purple and white flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseOrnithidium coccineum, orchid species, light red flowers and buds, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseMasdevallia bicolor, orchid species, reddish-purple and yellow flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant House

Most of the orchids are displayed in the Orchid, Fern & Carnivorous Plant House. There are some in the Tropical House, too. The final photo shows a Chinese Ground Orchid outdoors in the Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden. This Asian species has long been used as an herbal remedy.

The garden also features an extensive collection of California native species, many unusual varieties of cacti and succulents, and plants from areas of the world with Mediterranean climates. It’s all incredibly gorgeous, and well worth a visit.

Dendrobium spectabile, orchid species, reddish-purple white and yellow flowers with twisted and contorted petals, close-up of flower lip and column, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseLaelia anceps, orchid species, purple yellow and white flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, inside Orchid Fern & Carnivorous Plant HouseBletilla striata, Chinese Ground Orchid, orchid species, purple yellow and white flowers, Univ. of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, in the Chinese Medical Herb Garden

April Orchid Shows

Posted April 1st, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Botanical Gardens, Events

As always, my listings are an incomplete summary of monthly orchid shows. If you don’t find a nearby event, check with your local orchid society or gardening center about more shows or auctions in your area.

April 1 – 4
Exposicion Internacional de Orquideas, Claustro El Carmen, Universidad del Cauca, Calle 4 No. 3-56, Popayan, Cauca, Colombia
April 2 – 4
Maui Orchid Society Easter Show, Maui Mall, 70 E. Kaahumanu Ave., Kahului, Maui, Hawaii
April 3 – 5
Bribie Island Orchid Society Show, The Orchid House, 156A First Ave., Bribie Island, Queensland, Australia
April 3 – 5
Queensland Orchid Society Show, Brisbane Botanic Gardens Auditorium, Mt. Coot-Tha Rd., Toowong, Queensland, Australia
April 3 – 5
Gladstone Orchid & Foliage Society Easter Show, Bill Robertson Toyota, Hanson Rd., Gladstone Queensland, Australia
April 3 – 6
Orchilim, Alden Biesen, Kasteelstraat 6, B-3740 Bilzen, Belgium
April 4
Solihull and District Orchid Society Spring Show, Arden School, Station Rd., Knowle, West Midlands, UK
April 4
North of England Orchid Society Monthly Meeting & Show, Community Hall, Manchester Rd., Rixton with Glazebrook, Cheshire, UK
April 4
St. Croix Orchid Society Symposium, St. George Village Botanical Garden, 127 Estate St. George, Frederiksted, Saint Croix, US Virgin Islands
April 4 – 5
Flamingo Gardens Orchid & Bromeliad Show, Flamingo Gardens, 3750 S. Flamingo Rd., Davie, Florida

Read the rest of this post »

It’s Easy to Love Masdevallia Orchids

Posted March 29th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Cool Growers, Growing, Photos

It’s no wonder why we love Masdevallia orchids. These two stunning examples are now in bloom on our patio, with their big, neon flowers atop tall stems, bobbing in the breeze. Thanks to Dave’s great photography, it’s easy to enjoy their charms.

Masdevallia coccinea, orchid species with bright pink flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea, side view of orchid species with bright pink flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea, orchid species with bright pink flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Masdevallia coccinea var xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species with bright yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, side view of flower opening and flower buds, orchid species with bright yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, CaliforniaMasdevallia coccinea var xanthina 'M. Wayne Miller' AM/AOS, orchid species with bright yellow flowers, grown outdoors in Pacifica, California

Believe it or not, both of these plants are the same species, Masdevallia coccinea. Native to high elevations in Colombia and Peru, they occur in many brilliant color varieties. No matter the hue, they need cool, moist breezes and frequent waterings. These orchids love living outside our foggy home on the Northern California coast. And we certainly love having them here.

Discovering New Orchids

Posted March 25th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Misc

Kew Science explains how new orchid species are discovered. Every year, scientists describe hundreds of additional orchid species. These discoveries emerge from plant specimens preserved in scientific institutions, and expeditions to unexplored jungles. Little-explored tropical rainforests abound in Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and many areas of the Andes. However, searching these remote regions doesn’t start with a trip to the jungle. Instead, it starts with many trips to herbaria around the world to sift through extensive collections of dried plants. These contain many unknown or misidentified specimens, which are goldmines of orchid exploration. Finding and naming these new orchid species grows more urgent every day. Destruction of tropical forests pushes many to extinction before they can even be identified.

Hello Spring

Posted March 20th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Photos

Masdevallia Tourmaline x Bay Breeze, orchid hybrid, deep red flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis schilleriana, Moth Orchid species with pink white and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Eaglewood Kana 'Flash', orchid hybrid, green white and red flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

I’ve been digging deeper into our photos from the recent Pacific Orchid Expo, and these blooms jumped out to help greet spring. In the the USA’s Northeast, today is a welcome finish to a frigid, snowy winter. Here in California, spring is the end to our hopes that a rainy winter would replenish our reservoirs. It’s no fun to start the season with a major drought, but it does make me appreciate these blooms even more.

Bulbophyllum Elizabeth Ann 'Buckleberry', orchid hybrid, long skinny reddish purple and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaDendrobium spectabile v aureum, orchid species, yellow and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaVanda Pachara Delight hybrid, orchid hybrid, deep blue flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Trichopilia suavis, orchid species, pink yellow and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium Lucky Gloria 'Miss Kim', orchid hybrid, pink yellow and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia caesia, orchid species, yellow and reddish purple flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

The Secret Life of Orchids – Fungi

Posted March 17th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: In the News, Videos

Take a peek at the secret life of orchids in the short video below. Smithsonian Ecologist Melissa McCormick explains how much wild orchids need fungi to survive. Many types of plants exchange nutrients with fungi, but orchids cheat this symbiotic relationship by eating their fungi instead. Fortunately, a little fertilizer will suffice with your orchids at home.

And don’t miss the detailed, 3D image of an Embreea orchid at Smithsonian Science! You can investigate the virtual flower from different angles. Click on the menu in the upper left of the 3D image to find a guided tour of orchid flower parts.

And More Photos From the Pacific Orchid Expo

Posted March 12th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Events, Growing Orchids in San Francisco, Photos

Orchids are full of surprises.With incredibly diverse shapes, colors, and fragrances, it’s hard to believe that these flowers are actually related to one another. No other flowering plant family has such rich palettes and fascinating designs. These examples from the recent Pacific Orchid Expo certainly prove my point.

Masdevallia flower, red and orange flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaEpigeneium acuminatum, orchid species with white red and yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaBulbophyllum andersonii, orchid species with purple red and yellow flower, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Coelogyne incrassata, orchid species with yellow and white flower and bronze leaves, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia rosea. orchid species with pink and orange flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaCalanthe densiflora, orchid species with yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Many of these lesser-known varieties are the ones which give orchids their fussy reputations. Growing them demands exacting conditions to match tropical climates, with precise temperatures, high humidity, and pure water. Fortunately, events like the Pacific Orchid Expo let me enjoy these remarkable flowers without all that hard work. I hope you enjoy them, too.

Neomoorea wallisii, orchid species with peach white yellow and purple flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, Californiapossibly Dracula chestertonii, orchid species with weird flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaRestrepia flower close up, mini orchid species with red yellow and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Dendrobium shiraishii close up of flower lip, orchid species with purple and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaTolumnia Genting Pink Lady, orchid hybrid with pink purple white and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, CaliforniaMasdevallia polysticta, mini orchid species with purple white and yellow flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2015, San Francisco, California

Orchids for Chinese New Year

Posted March 7th, 2015 by Marc Cohen
Categories: Misc, Photos

It’s the Year of the Ram, and Chinese New Year is a great time for orchids. For millennia, orchids, especially Cymbidiums, have been treasured in East Asia for their rich fragrances and graceful foliage. Nowadays, they are popular gifts and decorations for Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival. Confucius cemented orchids into Chinese culture over 2500 years ago by praising their nobility and sweet fragrance. The first three photos below show modern examples of these celebrated Chinese orchids. These traditional varieties are smaller, and more expensive, than most modern Cymbidium hybrids.

Cymbidium ensifolium Keiran small, light green red and white flowers, Chinese orchid species in gold white and black traditonal flowerpot, Pacific Orchid Expo 2011, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium goeringii 'Setsuzan' Pacific Orchid Expo 2010, traditional Chinese Orchid species with green yellow white red flowers, graceful variegated leaves, San Francisco, CaliforniaCymbidium sinense, Chinese orchid species with red and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2014, San Francisco, California

Lunar New Year is celebrated in China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and in Asian communities throughout the world. Cymbidiums are always popular for the holiday, but so are Moth Orchids, Dendrobiums, Cattleyas, and others. The orchid hybrids pictured below are all great choices to wish happiness and prosperity in the new year. Read about other lucky flowers and fruits for Chinese New Year here. Happy Lunar New Year! Gung hay fat choy!

Dendrobium hybrid with purple and white flowers, Orchids in the Park 2012, San Francisco, CaliforniaPhalaenopsis hybrid, Moth Orchid flower, Kawamoto Orchid Nursery, Honolulu, HawaiiCymbidium Chuk Nam Moi, orchid hybrid with yellow red and white flowers, Pacific Orchid Expo 2010, San Francisco, California