Orchid Mania Dates to Roman Empire

A new study reveals that the Ancient Romans were orchid lovers. Botanists at Italy’s Roma Tre University have assembled a detailed database identifying plants in old Roman carvings, paintings, and textiles. Their work shows that Mediterranean orchid species were Roman favorites. This pushes back the earliest orchid representations in Western art from the Renaissance to Julius Caesar, who built temples adorned with orchid carvings over 2000 years ago.

Trying to identify flower species in ancient art isn’t easy. Matching stylized depictions to real plants is painstaking work, which is why this hadn’t been discovered until now. The orchid’s adoration in Ancient Rome may explain its disappearance from Western art for a millennium. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, early Christians associated orchids with Ancient Rome’s paganism. They banished orchid art until the 15th century. Kristin Nicole Edrington, an orchid jewelry specialist in Alexandria, Virginia, notes that this new study shows “just how much history is tied up with this flower…. It shows up in all kinds of places you might not expect it.” Varieties depicted in Ancient Rome included Orchis, Spiranthes, and Cephalanthera.

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4 Comments on “Orchid Mania Dates to Roman Empire”

  1. Marc Says:

    It’s a total coincidence that this news story popped up right after my post on Latin!

  2. Mike Chaisson Says:

    Appreciate you sharing, great post.Thanks.

  3. Adam Frank Says:

    This is truly interesting, I’ll look at your other posts!

  4. Oleta Malasky Says:

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    I will come back to see what else you have to say and what the reaction of other people on your blog . Keep up the good work.