Monday, 15 September 2008

Holy Ghost Orchid

Yesterday I was lucky to come across a very unusual orchid. Just one of those fortuitous moments. The Garden Club of Trinidad visited my garden yesterday and I was suitably humbled in the face of some seriously knowledgeable gardeners. The show bench theme was anything pink. But Sandy Gibson, one of Trinidad and Tobago's leading orchid experts, arrived with a spray from the Holy Ghost Orchid. Which was not pink but is so beautiful and rare that it trumped all other entrants. The Holy Ghost Orchid or the Dove Orchid as it is sometimes known, is the national flower of Panama.
I found it difficult to believe that anyone's national flower could end up being on the seriously endangered list but according to Wikepedia, the Holy Ghost orchid aka ...(Familia: Orchidaceae Subfamilia: Epidendroideae • Tribus: Maxillarieae • Subtribus: Coeliopsidinae • Genus: Peristeria (Orchidaceae) Species: Peristeria elata Hook. )(1831) is over-collected in its natural habitat..... This over collection has led to its status as a species threatened with extinction delineated in Appendix I of CITES. In its native habitat, Peristeria can usually be found growing near the edge of hardwood forests. In the fall, after the trees in the hardwood forest lose their leaves, the plants are exposed to full sun throughout the cool, dry winter. Species in this genus are either epiphytic or terrestrial in growth habit.

The orchid goes by the name dove orchid because of the distinct dove-like appearance of the interior of the bloom.

It is also beautifully scented. And after being passed around, the general consensus was that the smell is distinctly pomerac-like with a delicate rose-tinged perfume.

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