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Orchids and Fragrance

Many of us are often attracted to orchids by their flowers and fragrance. About 75% of the orchids are scented. However, not all orchids come with that sweet smell of vanilla, lemon, jasmine or chocolate. Todayís orchids have been cultivated for the size and color of the bloom. As the flowers become more and more captivating to the collectors, the scent of the orchids seems to fade in importance.

Scent to Attract:
In the wild, many orchids produce essential oil that is stored on the petals and sepals of the flower. The cells in which the oil is stored are called osmopheric tissues. The powerful oil is released when it comes into contact with air. The scent is used to attract pollinators. Bees, moths, butterflies, and even flies are attracted to the scent produced by each individual orchid. The vanilla orchid is highly prized for the sweet fragrance and is responsible for making many of our dessert tastier. Depending on the kind of pollinators it wants to attract the orchid would cast out its fragrance during different time of the day. Orchids that are pollinated by moths, usually have the strongest scent by night while those attracting flies or other day-time insects produce the strongest scent during the hottest part of the day. The environment that can retain the orchid fragrance the longest is on a hot and humid day with little air circulation.

Fragrance Contest:
Because scent is so particular to each person and because the scent of an orchid may change depending on the intensity of it, it has been difficult to incorporate fragrance into the category of judging orchids. Judging orchids for its scent has only been recently done in 1989 at the Japanís Grand Prix International Orchid Festival. Since then, other orchid festivals in Europe, New Zealand, and North America have followed by including fragrance as their area of judging orchids. Through conferences and festivals that seek to select orchids for their fragrance as well as visual beauty, there has been a revived interest in having orchids that look good as well as ones that smell good. Many of these conferences often attract perfume producers and orchids lovers who attend in search of new scents.

Fragrant Varieties:
One of the most popular orchids that have been selected for their fragrance is the Oncidium Sharry (Sherry) Baby. Not only is this particular orchid is easy to grow, but their abundance of bloom and the scent of sweet chocolateósome would call it milk chocolate-- makes it a favorite. Another attractive favorite is the Brassocattleya Mount Hood that smells like vanilla.

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