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Orchid fever grips South Africa


Johannesburg – There are over 25 000 species of orchids in the world. This equals the number of bony fishes found on Earth, is more than double the number of bird species, and about four times the number of mammal species.

The recent East Rand Orchid Society’s Autumn Orchid Show was in preparation for the society’s keynote exhibit at the 21st World Orchid Conference which will be at the Sandton Convention Centre (September 10 to 14). The theme for the world show is “Orchids: Gold in a Green Age”.

Local orchid exhibits designed and built by the society will be part of the spectacular orchid exhibition that will run alongside the convention and will be open to the public during the conference

A World Orchid Conference (WOC) has been held every three years since 1954. Established by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society and the American Orchid Society, the conference is more than a spectacular international exhibition of orchids.

Today, it brings together scientists, amateur botanists, conservationists, growers, traders, hobbyists and gardeners – all of whom make up a community of orchid lovers who have forged a powerful network across the globe.

More than three decades have passed since South Africa hosted the 10th WOC in Durban in 1981. The Durban WOC was hosted in a specially built 3 000m2 Pavilion Centre between the Maharani and Elangeni hotels on Durban’s North Beach. The six-day orchid show was attended by 65 000 visitors. Over 1 200 delegates attended the Durban conference and 53 academic presentations were given.

In 2011, Singapore hosted the 20th WOC in a 16 000m2 subter-ranean hall which housed 55 displays from 19 countries. The scientific lecture programme included 130 papers and stands with over 80 orchid traders from 17 countries exhibited orchids, art, equipment and merchandise.

South Africa hosts the 21st WOC in Joburg this year and Ecuador will host the 22nd WOW in 2017.

Did you know?

* There are 460 orchid species indigenous to South Africa. The best known are the Cape disa orchids and the leopard orchids from the Mpumalanga Lowveld. Most South African orchid species are terrestrial. They occur across the Highveld grasslands where they have small flowers and are not easily seen by the untrained eye.

* Orchids are the best-selling pot plants in Europe, the US and Far East. In the US, moth orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.) sales have overtaken those of poinsettias and chrysanthemums, while in South Africa, their sale has grown expo-nentially over the past five years.

* Orchids feature as the National Flower of Guatemala (Lycaste skinneri), Brazil (Cattleya labiata), Indonesia (Phalaenopsis amabilis), Panama (Peristeria elata), Venezuela (Cattleya mossiae), Belize (Prosthechea cochleata), Costa Rica (Guarianthe skinneri) and Colombia (Cattleya trianae). Singapore’s national flower is an orchid hybrid, Vanda Miss Joaquim.


* Make leaf mould this autumn. Store leaves in a wire cage, where they will break down into compost that will enrich the soil in your garden.

* Plant pots of herbs (thyme, origanum, chervil, parsley and sage) on a patio, a sunny balcony, or window box that receives at least four hours of sunshine a day. Water once or twice a week.

* Winter flowering seedlings to plant now include Bellis perennis, calendula, cineraria, cornflower, delphinium, foxglove, gazania, Iceland poppy, larkspur, Livingstone daisy, lobelia, lupin, pansy, penstemon, primula, schizanthus, sweet pea and viola. – Saturday Star