[The ancient Greek name.]
We have only one species of Orchis proper in the United States, those which are popularly so called belong to the genus Platanthera.
Orchis spectabilis. - Showy Orchis. - A low species, with a root of fleshy fibres from which are produced two fleshy oblong leaves and a flower-stem about six inches high, bearing several white and pinkish-purple flowers, in May. For remarks on culture, see Platanthera.
[From the Greek, to excite, and an ox; that is to say, a food nourishing for cattle.]
Very early-flowering, flowers large, handsome, singular in the different shades of colors, the upper part of the large petal is purple with blood-red veins, the wings are blue, the keel blue, tinged with green, the color changes as the flower advances, and becomes finally altogether blue
O. atropurpureus, has fine purple flowers, in a dense one-sided, many-flowered raceme. 0. formosus is also beautiful, a native of Mount Caucasus; flowers large, fine purple. 0. Fischeri is another handsome purple species. 0. tuberosus, a native of England, is also of a fine species, remarkable for its tubecous roots, which the Scotch Highlanders chew when dried to give a good flavor to their whiskey; they also assert that by the use of them they are enabled to bear hunger and thirst for a longer time without suffering. In Holland and Flanders they are dried, roasted, and served at table like chestnuts. In England the plant is called the Wood Pea or Heath Pea. 0. luteus is considered one of the handsomest of the papilionaceous family. Several other species are well deserving notice, they are easily propagated by dividing at the root or by seed. A sandy soil suits them best.