Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Rare slipper orchid is back

Although declared extinct, a rare slipper orchid has returned. Rediscovered in 1930 at a site in the Dales which still remains secret, careful propagation from a solitary parent has gradually increased the plant’s UK population, with sites for new stock regularly and carefully chosen in the north of England.

Kilnsey Park in Wharfedale also has seven other types of orchid among 150 different wildlflowers on its two hectare site, reports The Guardian.

The Lady's Slipper, Cypripedium calceolus, has long been prized for and was coveted by collectors as early as the first decade of the 17th century. In Victorian times, farmers brought them from the Dales to Skipton and Settle markets to sell to curio hunters from the industrial north.

Medicinal gold
The Taiwanese Council of Agriculture (COA) has unveiled a new orchid species for use in traditional Chinese medicine. It contains high levels of polysaccharides that are good for people undergoing chemotherapy.

The Golden Emperor No. 1, which took eight years to develop, is a crossbreed that contains more polysaccharides than the premium orchid species, Dendrobium huoshanense, that originated in China’s Anhui Province, writes local press.

Polysaccharides play a role in stimulating the immune system and can aid the recovery of patients from chemotherapy, said a spokesperson. Eye patients can also benefit from polysaccharides, as they activate the retinal cell layers.

The Golden Emperor No. 1, which will soon be mass produced, takes only two years to grow and can yield 8g to 12g of dried polysaccharides annually.