Friday, December 15, 2006

蘭香滿崗 - 淺說蘭花 Sweet Wild Orchid Scent – An Introduction

蘭香滿崗 - 淺說蘭花

開花植物之中,蘭花是廣為世人喜愛和傳頌的花卉之一。中文的園藝學書籍,把蘭花分為國蘭和洋蘭兩大類,國蘭所指的品種,多為具有香味的蕙蘭屬(Cymbidium spp.)的狹葉地生蘭,如春蘭、素心蘭、報歲蘭等。傳統上中國人獨愛國蘭,賞蘭重其氣質,愛其花之淡雅幽香,愛其葉之優雅形態。中國人欣賞蘭花,源遠流長,蘭花的採集、馴化與栽培,可上溯至二千四百年前的春秋時代,孔子更以蘭的特質比喻人的氣質品格:「芝蘭生幽谷,不以無人而不芳,君子修道立德,不為窮困而改節。」因此蘭花又被稱為「花中之君子」 。


除了觀賞價值外,傳統中醫藥中,石斛蘭屬植物的莖具有清熱生津、滋陰補胃、明目、抗衰老、免疫調節等藥理作用, 野生的石斛蘭,更是名貴的中藥材。

(圖) 北海道礼文島特産的兜蘭/拖鞋蘭,屬日本的特定稀少植物、
  Cypripedium marcanthum Sw. var. rebunense  

  Rebun Lady's Slipper 礼文敦盛草 レブンアツモリソウ
  Orchidaceae 蘭科

Sweet Wild Orchid Scent – An Introduction

Among the many flowering plants, the orchid family is one of the most favourite and praised. Orchids are traditionally divided into two groups by the Chinese horticulturists : the Chinese Orchids and the Foreign Orchids. The Chinese Orchids include mainly those sweet-scented terrestrial Cymbidium spp. with narrow leaves. The Chinese have a 2400-year-long history of appreciating, collecting and cultivating the Cymbidium. They love the sweet flower scent and the elegant leave shape of the Cymbidium orchids, and the human virtue they symbolizes. The famous Confucius once said, “Orchid grows in the shaded valley, keeps on releasing its sweet scent though there is no one around to praise it. Likewise, a man of noble character should show his virtue even when in poverty.” and hence the other name for the Cymbidium orchids, “Flowers with a noble character”.

Any orchids other than the Chinese ones are called the “Foreign Orchids”. Those are mainly the colourful species from the warm and humid areas of Tropical Asia, Central and South America, including the Cattleya, queen of the orchids. Unlike the Chinese orchids, foreign orchids are praised for their flowers, especially the shape, colour and size of the flower. The Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum, Coelogyne, Vanda and Oncidium are the most popular species. Cultivation of and passion for orchids in the western world started in England, then spreaded to American and Japan. Nobles of the Victorian England kept gardeners and orchid hunters under their service. Orchid hunters were sent oversea, risking their life searching for the beautiful exotic orchids around the world for their masters’ botanic gardens and estates. In recent years, orchid enthusiasts have turned their eyes on the exotic native species. Wild orchids collectors roam around the jungles day and night for the specimens.

Apart from the ornamental value, the wild specimen of the Dendrobium spp. of the Orchid Family is also a very valuable medical herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It is an effective anti-inflammatory and fluids replenishing agent, and used as a Yin tonic which moistens the stomach and lungs. It is also used to improve eye-sight, postpone aging and regulate immune function.

Nowadays, wild orchids all over the world are under threats of the lost of their natural habitats. Many have been suffering from extensive illegal collection over the years due to its high ornamental and medical value, and became quite rare in the wild.

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