• picture
  • picture
PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Almanac: The First Orchid Hybrid

Air Date: Week of October 19, 2001

stream/download this segment as an MP3 file

This week, facts about the first orchid hybrid ever created. When Calanthe Dominii successfully flowered, one scientist predicted, "It will drive the botanists mad!"

Transcript

CURWOOD: It's Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC]

CURWOOD: October 1856 was a big month for botany. That's when flowers bloomed on the world's first hybrid orchid. Botanist John Dominy raised the plant at a nursery in Exeter, England. The name? Calanthe Dominii, meaning, Dominy's beautiful flower. It was a breakthrough for the plant world, but one horticulturist warned, "You'll drive the botanists mad." And perhaps he did. Mr. Dominy started a trend that has blossomed almost beyond belief. He had produced 25 hybrid orchids by the time he retired in 1880. At the turn of the century there were more than 1,000. And today, the count is past 200,000 varieties and still climbing. Each year some 2,000 new hybrid orchids of all shapes, sizes and colors appear in greenhouses and at shows, and some are, well, downright bizarre. Consider the recent work of a genetic engineer in Singapore. Adding bioluminescent DNA from a firefly to an orchid produced a hybrid that actually glows in the dark. And that's this week's Living on Earth Almanac.

[MUSIC]

 

 

Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

P.O. Box 990007
Prudential Station
Boston, MA, USA 02199
Telephone: 1-617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Newsletter
Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Major funding for Living on Earth is provided by the National Science Foundation.

Committed to healthy food, healthy people, a healthy planet, and healthy business.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live.

Kendeda Fund, furthering the values that contribute to a healthy planet.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary hummingbird photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.