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Published in Scientific Papers. Series B, Horticulture, Vol. LXIV, Issue 1
Written by Nora Eugenia D. G. ANGHELESCU, Annie BYGRAVE, Mihaela I. GEORGESCU, Sorina A. PETRA, Florin TOMA

Orchidaceae is the second largest families of flowering plants. There are approximately 900 orchid genera comprising between 28,000-32,000 species of orchids. The relationship between orchids and mankind is complex. The history of orchids’ discovery goes hand in hand with the history of humanity, encompassing discovery and adventure, witchcraft and magic, symbolism and occultism, addiction and sacrifice, lust and wealth. Historically, the Chinese were the first to cultivate orchids as medicinal plants, more than 4000 years ago. Gradually, records about orchids spread, reaching the Middle East and Europe. Around 300 B.C., Theophrastus named them for the first time orkhis. In 1737, Carl Linnaeus first used the word Orchidaceae to designate plants with similar features. The family name, Orchidaceae was fully established in 1789, by Antoine Laurent de Jussieu. In 1862, Charles Darwin published the first edition of his book, Fertilisation of Orchids. Darwin considered the adaptations of orchid flowers to their animal pollinators as being among the best examples of his idea of evolution through natural selection. Orchidology was on its way. During the 18th and the 19th centuries, orchids generated the notorious Orchid Fever where orchid-hunters turned the search for orchids into a frantic and obsessive hunt. Ever since, orchids have conquered the world, becoming a much-desired, multibillion-dollar commodity.

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