What Is A Black Orchid? Fascinating But Elusive


Does this colored orchid flower really exist? If so, which orchids are considered to have the blackest flowers?

Black Orchid

These are questions that have been posed by orchid and flower enthusiasts for centuries.

Orchid growers and hobbyists have been trying to grow a black orchid for a very long time. The fact is, in nature, black flowers are rare. As a result in the plant nursery world there seems to have been a fascination for black anything. We are, as human beings, drawn to the elusive and the rare. So growers strive for black gladiolus, black canna lilies and calla lilies and yes, even black corn. The reality is that there is almost no plant in the world that is truly black in color. Most are shades of deep blue or reds or purples. This is also true about orchid flowers. Growers and hybridizers have tried many different orchid plants and hybrid orchid varieties to try to get to a truly black flower.

While this color has been elusive in orchids, growers are pretty successful these days, across a number of orchid genera.

The orchid that is considered the "original" one is Coelogyne pandurata. Another very dark maroon one is an Australian native orchid Cymbidium canaiculatun var. Sparkesii. Also notable for its dark color is Trichoglottis brachiata. These are ones that have been around for some time.

Among the most notable now (since 2010) that are actually commercially available are from Sunset Valley Orchids. Fredclarkeara After Dark 'SVO Black Pearl' and Fredclarkeara After Dark 'Black Diamond' have some of the blackest orchid flowers seen by judges. And Fredclarkeara After Dark 'Sunset Valley Orchids is a dark but spotted version of a similar plant.

There are also a number of Draculas that are also very dark. Most notably Dracula Raven and a seedling of Dracula roezlii that has an incredible 9 inch (23 cm) flower with a lovely pink lip. Stunning flower!

If these plants are of more interest to you then I suggest that you check out the October 2011 "ORCHIDS" The Bulletin of the American Orchid Society and the article called Dracula Raven: A Quest for the Black Orchid. Or you could go to the OrchidMania web site and search for images of "Black Orchids".

Other orchids that used to be listed as coming come close include the Laeliocattleya Lc. Mem. Robert Strait 'Blue Hawaii' which has a dark purple lip. The Vanda David Gardner #1 has purplish areas under black speckles. There is a black tongued orchid,the Epigeneium amplum. Another example is the Liparis nervosa, a Japanese version of this orchid plant but when you look at it you can seen it is not really black. In fact none of these are. They were the industry's attempt to find the elusive Black Orchid.

It is clear now that the Dracula's and the hybrids from Sunset Valley Orchids are now getting very close.

And so the quest goes on! Still fascinating and still exciting.

And after, all like most worthwhile journeys, it is about the JOURNEY not just the destination.

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