ORKİDE, ORCHIDACEAE, ORCHID, ORCHIDEE, ORCHIDÈE, ORCHIDEA…
As I heard from my parents, when my mother was 6 month pregnant, my father told her if the baby would be a girl he wanted the give the name Orkide. They didn’t know if the baby boy or girl yet but they both liked the idea because of their love to this exotic flower and also its different symbolism and meanings.
Let me give you some interesting details about orchid; in western world, orchid represents love, rare beauty, strength and luxury. The orchid has deeper moral meaning in Chinese history and literature. It’s known as a symbol of purity and noble virtue due to its fragrance. With the plum, the chrysanthemum, and the bamboo, orchid is one of “the noble four”. In China orchid also signifies refinement, and the innocence of children. The color of the orchid gives strong messages. For instance a pink orchid signifies pure affection, Cattlea symbolizes mature charm.
In ancient Greece, women believed they could control of unborn babies with orchid root. If the father of their unborn child eats large, new orchid tubers, the baby would be a boy. If the mother eats small orchid tubers, she would give birth to a girl. In the Ancient Roman era orchids bulbs were being used for making aphrodisiac drinks.
Orchids have been said to represent many different things through the years in Christian theology, but the most popular and commonly recognized symbol is the spots on orchids representing the blood of Christ so they commonly found in many churches as altar decorations.
Orchids have been the object of many kind of arts in years such as cinema, music, literature (novels, poems…) photography, painting etc. with referring different kind of symbolism and their inspirations. In painting, orchid is the symbol of perfection. The shape of orchids has been mentioned as geometric in comparison to the curvier forms of other flower.
As a plant; Orchidaceae (or Orchid family) is the largest family of the flowering plants. There are at least 25,000 different species of orchids, with probably thousands more that remain unknown or unclassified.
The vanilla orchids, form a flowering plant genus of about 110 species in the orchid family. It is the only orchid widely used for industrial purposes in the food also in the cosmetic industry.
As far back as the 1500’s, Aztecs in Mexico made a chocolate drink from cocoa beans called Tlilxochitl which was flavored using ground vanilla beans. They believed it gave them power and strength.
Orchids are cosmopolitan, adaptable flowers occurring in almost every habitat but deserts and glaciers. Antarctica is the only continent where orchids do not grow naturally. The great majority are to be found in the tropics, mostly Asia, Central and South America.
Turkey is one of the most biodiversity-rich countries in the world. Approximately 150 orchid species exist in Turkey and 40 of these are endemic that is found in Turkey alone. Mostly orchids grow in the Mediterranean and the Aegean region. In the Black Sea coastline, some orchids species exist too.
Orchids were very popular in the Ottomans era for producing sahlep/salep (which is a flour produced from the tubers of dried, several wild orchids ) and they believed it’s a powerful aphrodisiac to increasing sexual power. Salep is offered as a winter beverage with milk and sugar and it is also used as medicine for cough and bronchits. It is being used for making ice cream too and the ice cream industry is threatening a major collapse in the number of orchids. And the popularity of salep in Turkey has led to a decline in the populations of wild orchids. Sahlep/Orchis (dust, tablet or any forms) is forbidden to export from Turkey. And Doğa Derneği (Bird Life in Turkey) has formed a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Forestry to establish a national fund to halt biodiversity decline it’s called “Zero Extinction Fund” for 10 prioritised projects and Lykia Orchids are one of them. There exist only last 200 Lykia orchids are living in Mersin, Antakya and Kahramanmaraş.
I love orchids as many people do. And personally this flower is more meaningful for me as I am carrying the name of it. I hope some rare species of this flower family will not be the victim of human greedy and they will last forever as a beauty of the nature and the planet earth…
Book: Ekrem Sezik/Orkidelerimiz, Türkiye’nin Orkideleri (Our orchids, orchids of Turkey)
Book: Karel Kreutz / Die Orchiedeen der Türkei (Orchids of Turkey)
Movies: The Black Orchid, Wild Orchid, Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid, La chair de l’orchidée (Flesh of the Orchid), Das Rätsel der roten Orchidee (The Secret of the Red Orchid), The Orchid and the Rose (short animation)