Have I Ever Told you that Orchids are my Favourite Flower?

Orchidaceae or orchids are one of the oldest, largest and most diverse families of flowering plants in the world! The national flower of my home country, Singapore, is also an orchid. These beautiful flowers are my absolute favourite. I love them for their vivid colours as well as for the diversity in their phenotype, which I find most fascinating. One reason for the immense diversity in the structure of orchid flowers is because each species has its own unique pollinator. 

Most orchids are epiphytes, meaning that they have aerial roots and grow on other plants but there are some that grow in the ground. I'm fortunate to have visited some orchid gardens in Singapore, Sri Lanka and Costa Rica. Here are a selection of photos from my past travels.

           

 This orchid resembles a human figure.

 

This orchid resembles a turtle. 

 

This orchid is very tiny. 

 

When I visited Maui a few years ago, I also had the wonderful experience of learning how to make a lei with orchids. Leis are garland necklaces commonly worn in Hawaii.   

 

CHEMISTRY OF ORCHIDS

Food

Did you know that vanilla, one of the world's most beloved flavours, comes from an orchid? The vanilla bean containing the vanilla seeds, is the fruit of an orchid flower. The vanilla flavour can be attributed to a molecule called vanillin you can see on the Vanilla Card. I really love vanilla ice cream!
 

Perfume

Many orchids are naturally fragrant for the purpose of attracting pollinators. This has also inspired the research to find out what aromatic molecules orchids may contain for the concoction of perfumes. Using the chemistry methods of gas-chromatography-mass spectrometry and headspace technologies, some of the orchid scent molecules that scientists have been able to identify include terpenes (e.g., β-caryophyllene, ocimene), benzenoids (e.g., eugenol, benzyl acetate, methyl cinnamate), and other volatile compounds (e.g., 1,8-cineolemethyl jasmonate). 

 

Do you like orchids? Have you ever stumbled upon any interesting orchids anywhere? Have you ever tried growing them yourself? Let me know in the comments below.


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