Friday, 14 February 2014

Orchids 1; Roses nil

Forget roses. Get yourself a Miltonia orchid.

I bought one from my favourite Swedish home store - and it's more fragrant than any cut flowers. It's a Herr Alexandre, a striking plant with large, floppy white flowers and a crimson and gold butterfly pattern in the centre.

I wish I could insert an aroma jpeg so you could smell the floral scent for yourself.

It might be my imagination, but I believe it's stronger in the mornings. Or it might just be more noticeable when the central heating's off!

Either way, I'm hooked. I love my phals, but Miltonias are a marvel.

They are a fascinating orchid genus (aren't they all?). It comprises nine epiphyte species and eight natural hybrids inhabitants of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest.

It was established by John Lindley in 1837. Despite the fact that Miltonia is now a well established genus, most of its species were originally classified under other genera as Cyrtochilum, Oncidium, Odontoglossum, and Brassia. All were discovered between 1834 and 1850 with the exception of M. kayasimae, discovered only in 1976.

Named after Charles Wentworth-Fitzwilliam, 5th Earl Fitzwilliam, formerly Viscount Milton, an English orchid enthusiast, the flowers have a delicate, exotic scent, often compared to that of roses, according to Wikipedia and I do so agree.

The species in this genus are sometimes confused with the pansy orchids, but it is the other Miltoniopsis orchids (see an example below) that have flowers that closely resemble the pansy. Almost everyone except for the most serious orchid hobbyists use these names interchangeably, which may cause confusion.

 By Pamela Kelt

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