(Excerpt from today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Q. I’ve heard that some orchids are immortal. What’s the oldest known orchid? Colleen C
A. There are 30,000 naturally occurring orchid species around the world that have evolved for millions of years. The earliest recorded man-made orchid hybrid in the Western world dates back to 1853 and is a cattleya. It is thought, however, that the Japanese and Chinese growers were hybridizing several centuries earlier.
An individual orchid plant can live a long time if taken care of – hundreds of years or more since orchids do not have a “life span.” We have a cattleya in bloom right now that was bred in 1898 and is still going strong.
Arthur Chadwick is president of Chadwick & Son Orchids Inc. His column appears the fourth Saturday of the month. Reach him at 1240 Dorset Road, Powhatan, VA 23139, (804) 598-7560 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org . Previous columns are on his Web site, www.chadwickorchids.com.