Sunday, April 06, 2008

Fragrant Orchids

fragrance plays an essential role in their survival strategy... orchids spice up their lives in order to attract pollinators.

Flowers... are advertising the fact that they offer nectar or other substances...

Some have wonderful fragrances yet produce no nectar and trick insects into thinking there is a free meal. Other orchids produce odors that mimic the
pheromones of bees and wasps (some even look like female insects) so that males try to mate with the orchids. Some bees even collect the orchid's
fragrance and store it on their hind legs to use, perhaps, to attract their own mates.

Orchids are pollinated by bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths, gnats, and beetles.
Flies, gnats, and beetles are attracted to dull-green and reddish-brown orchids with foul odors.
Bulbophyllum beccarii attracts flies by smelling like decaying animals. Butterflies and hummingbirds tend to gravitate to bright yellow and red flowers that are full of sweet nectar. Bees love nectar and cheerful flowers that range from purples and blues to bright yellows.

Most orchids smell best in the morning hours when the light is bright. The fragrance fades in the afternoon when the temperature increases.
This corresponds with the pollination practices of insects that are more active in early hours.

Other orchids are fragrant in the evening...
Brassavola nodosa... starts exuding its heavenly fragrance at dusk when its pollinators, nocturnal moths, come out.

Fragrances are volatile. They often develop and become more complex the longer you smell them.
A fragrance may catch your attention with a strong citrus smell that sweetens and becomes floral after a few minutes. At first Dendrobium anosmum smells like raspberry, shifts to strawberry,
then rhubarb, and finally hyacinth.

Some fragrances are mild, while others are intoxicating. There are many factors that affect fragrance. Ochids tend to be more fragrant on sunny rather than shady days, when the volatile oils warm up and diffuse. Fragrances tend to linger longer in
areas of high humidity. Locations where the air is still tend to trap fragrances, while smells will
dissipate in breezy sites.

Over the past several decades, a greater emphasis has been placed on hybridizing fragrant orchids.
... Phalaenopsis... is now being bred for fragrance (although it tends to be delicate).
Cymbidiums... are now being bred in miniature, easier-to-grow forms that have fragrance.
Cymbidium Golden Elf 'Stardust' is one example with a subtle rose perfume.

If you prefer strong fragrances, Rhynchostylis or Zygopetalum are two good options...
not all orchids are fragrant...
Cattleyas have fragrances that either revive you or make you swoon... they are [have] complex fragrances (many layers) that range from citrus to
beautiful, rose-like floral. Oncidiums have fragrances that make you hungry [well ! ...] they range from chocolate and vanilla to tropical punch.

When orchids are judged for fragrances, experts... evaluate the orchid based on the intensity (strength) of the fragrance, the distance the smell
travels, its general appeal (pleasant smell), and the complexity (well-roundedness) of the fragrance.
Popular Fragrant Orchids
Brassavola nodosa (lily-of-the-valley)
Brassavola 'Little Stars' (sweet)
Orchids from the Cattleya alliance tend to have floral, sweet, citrus
Cochleanthes amazonica (spicy, candy)
Dendrobuim anosmum (raspberry, strawberry or rhubarb)
Dendrobuim parishii (berries)
Dendrobium nobile (floral)
Encyclia fragrans (vanilla, honey)
Encyclia radiata (coconut)
Lycaste aromatica (cinnamon)
Maxillaria tenuifolia (coconut)
Miltoniopsis (rose)
Neofinetia falcata (coconut and jasmine)
Oncidium Sharry Baby (chocolate and vanilla)
Oncidium Twinkle (vanilla)
Oncidium Hawaiian Sunset (floral)
Oncidium cheirophorum (sweet, citrus)
Oncidium ornithorhynchum (vanilla)
Phalaenopsis Caribbean Sunset (rose)
Phalaenopsis Coral Isles (citrus)
Phalaenopsis Orchid World 'Roman Holiday' (spicy)
Phalaenopsis schilleriana (rose)
Phalaenopsis violacea (floral)
Rhynchostylis (floral)
Vanda coerulescens (grape bubble gum)
Zygopetalum (hyacinth)"


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