of Orchids (continued)
Under such extreme conditions, orchids quickly
succumbed by the thousands. One nobleman remarked that England had
become the "grave of tropical orchids". In spite of the
speed with which orchids died, they were imported in ever larger
quantities. The startling beauty of the flowers on the few plants
that survived stimulated the desire to continue to cultivate them.
Competition was keen among aristocratic 19th century orchid culturists.
The more successful growers carefully guarded their secrets. One
of the first to successfully build up a large collection of exotic
orchids was William Cattley of Barnet, England. The popular Cattleya
orchid genus was named for and dedicated to him.
European scientists, too, were interested in orchids. Charles Darwin
was fascinated by them. His studies into fertilization mechanisms
in this family led to a 2-volume classic in 1862, The Various Contrivances
by which Orchids are Fertilised by Insects