About Orchids eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 193 pages of information about About Orchids.
only one found, I believe, outside of India and the Eastern Tropics—­also belongs to Japan, and a cool Dendrobe, A. arcuatum, is found in the Transvaal; and I have reason to hope that another or more will turn up when South Africa is thoroughly searched.  A pink Angraecum, very rarely seen, dwells somewhere on the West Coast; the only species, so far as I know, which is not white.  It bears the name of M. Du Chaillu, who found it—­he has forgotten where, unhappily.  I took that famous traveller to St. Albans in the hope of quickening his recollection, and I fear I bored him afterwards with categorical inquiries.  But all was vain.  M. Du Chaillu can only recall that once on a time, when just starting for Europe, it occurred to him to run into the bush and strip the trees indiscriminately.  Mr. Sander was prepared to send a man expressly for this Angraecum.  The exquisite A.  Sanderianum is a native of the Comorro Islands.  No flower could be prettier than this, nor more deliciously scented—­when scented it is!  It grows in a climate which travellers describe as Paradise, and, in truth, it becomes such a scene.  Those who behold young plants with graceful garlands of snowy bloom twelve to twenty inches long are prone to fall into raptures; but imagine it as a long-established specimen appears just now at St Albans, with racemes drooping two and a half feet from each new growth, clothed on either side with flowers like a double train of white long-tailed butterflies hovering! A.  Scottianum comes from Zanzibar, discovered, I believe, by Sir John Kirk; A. caudatum, from Sierra Leone.  This latter species is the nearest rival of A. sesquipedale, showing “tails” ten inches long.  Next in order for this characteristic detail rank A.  Leonis and Kotschyi—­the latter rarely grown—­with seven-inch “tails;” Scottianum and Ellisii with six-inch; that is to say, they ought to show such dimensions respectively.  Whether they fulfil their promise depends upon the grower.

With the exceptions named, this family belongs to Madagascar.  It has a charming distinction, shared by no other genus which I recall, save, in less degree, Cattleya—­every member is attractive.  But I must concentrate myself on the most striking—­that which fascinated Darwin.  In the first place it should be pointed out that savants call this plant AEranthus sesquipedalis, not Angraecum—­a fact useful to know, but unimportant to ordinary mortals.  It was discovered by the Rev. Mr. Ellis, and sent home alive, nearly thirty years ago; but civilized mankind has not yet done wondering at it.  The stately growth, the magnificent green-white flowers, command admiration at a glance, but the “tail,” or spur, offers a problem of which the thoughtful never tire.  It is commonly ten inches long, sometimes fourteen inches, and at home, I have been told, even longer; about the thickness of a goose-quill, hollow,

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About Orchids from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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