Friday, 13 June 2014

Lost orchids!

If proof were needed about the allure of formerly ‘lost orchids’, pity the poor officials at the Penang Floral Festival where prized specimens have been stolen.

More than 15 prized orchids worth around £4,000 have been stolen from the Penang Floral Festival venue, including a grand prize-winning endangered species, a Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, that could only be found in Sabah.

Sabah is one of the 13 member states of Malaysia, and is its easternmost state. It is located on the northern portion of the island of Borneo and known as the second largest state in the country after Sarawak, which it borders on its southwest.
According to the press, the flowers vanished overnight when committee members arrived to set up. The orchids had been displayed at the same spot since last Sunday.

This slipper orchid has a notorious history. It was originally collected back in 1887 and brought into cultivation in Europe. The original location of where the plants were collected was apparently falsified by the plant collector Sander & Sons, who gave the location of New Guinea in order to keep rival collectors from getting hold of the plant. For the next 60 years the plant’s true location remained a mystery.

Then quite by accident a population of this beautiful slipper orchid was found at the base of Mount Kinabalu.

Stranger than fiction? Read The Lost Orchid, a Gothic-inspired adventure based on the orchid craze of the late 1800s.

By Pamela Kelt

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