Victorian Orchidelirium


From 'Reichenbachia' by Frederick Sander, illustrated by Henry George Moon. Second series, volume 2, plate 68, Phalaenopsis sanderiana and Phalaenopsis × intermedia. Public domain

Orchids date back millions of years. But in the 1800s, the plants became a status symbol and the cornerstone of a high-dollar industry. Collecting the plants involved adventure and excitement -- and a high death rate.

If you'd like to try the potato candy recipe our listener Brittany mentioned in her email, you can find it here: https://www.southernliving.com/recipes/potato-candy-recipe

Holly's Research:

  • Amelinckx, Andrew. “Old Time Farm Crime: The Cutthroat World of Victorian Orchid Hunters.” Modern Farmer. Aug. 1, 2014. https://modernfarmer.com/2014/08/old-time-farm-crime-wild-wooly-cutthroat-world-victorian-orchid-hunters/
  • Hardman, Isabel. “Orchidelirium: Being mad about flowers can help you stay sane.” Spectator. July 2017. https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/07/orchidelirium-being-mad-about-flowers-can-help-you-stay-sane/
  • Hansford, David. “Orchidelirium.” New Zealand Geographic. Issue 124. Nov-Dec 2014. https://www.nzgeo.com/stories/orchidelirium/
  • Cock-Starkey, Claire. “The Dangerous and Competetive World of Victorian Orchid Hunting.” Mental Floss. November 18, 2016. http://mentalfloss.com/article/88888/dangerous-and-highly-competitive-world-victorian-orchid-hunting
  • Waiton, Victoria. “BY HOOK OR BY CROOK: THE PLUNDER OF ORCHIDS FROM THE NEW WORLD.” Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. April 14, 2012. http://www.lewisginter.org/by-hook-or-by-crook-the-plunder-of-orchids-from-the-new-world/
  • Biggs, Matthew. “Plant Hunters Extraordinaire.” The Garden. June 2014. https://www.rhs.org.uk/about-the-rhs/publications/magazines/the-garden/2014-issues/June/plant-hunters-extraordinaire.pdf
  • Fitz-Gerald, William George. “The Romance of Hunting Orchids.” Evening Star. Feb. 25, 1906. Accessed online: https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1906-02-25/ed-1/seq-31/#date1=1836&index=1&rows=20&words=hunter+hunters+orchid+orchid-hunter+orchid-hunters&searchType=basic&sequence=0&state=&date2=1922&proxtext=orchid+hunters&y=0&x=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&page=1
  • Hone, Dr. Dave. “Moth tongues, orchids and Darwin – the predictive power of evolution.” The Guardian. Oct. 2, 2013. https://www.theguardian.com/science/lost-worlds/2013/oct/02/moth-tongues-orchids-darwin-evolution
  • Campbell, Dana. “Orchidae.” Encyclopedia of Life. http://eol.org/pages/8156/overview
  • Bulpitt, Christopher J et al. “The Use of Orchids in Chinese Medicine.” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 100.12 (2007): 558–563. https:/s/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2121637/
  • Riley-Smith, Ben. “William John Swainson: who was he?” The Telegraph. Oct. 8, 2013. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/google-doodle/10363024/Who-was-William-John-Swainson.html
  • Boyle, Frederick. “THE WOODLANDS ORCHIDS.” Macmillan. 1901. Accessed online: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/32205/32205-h/32205-h.htm

Topics in this Podcast: Queen Victoria, colonialism, plants, manias, botany, 19th century, British history