Fragrant Orchids

The Science of Fragrance

Orchids have evolved into particular shapes, colors and smells to attract pollinators, so they may reproduce. Some orchids attract only a few very specific pollinators, so they have fragrance when these pollinators are the most active, either by day or by night.

Orchid fragrance is an oily substance found in glands called osmopheres on the outside edges of the orchid’s roots, leaves and flowers. This oily fragrant substance will change into vapor form, enabling the plant to smell. Not all orchid fragrances can be sensed by humans. These specific fragrances are what primarily attract the insects that pollinate the orchid.

The orchid flower’s fragrance is produced at a time daily when the pollinators are the most active, so the fragrance can have maximum effect. For instance, some orchids, namely the Phalenophilus, are fragrant only at night, and are white or other very light colors because they are pollinated by moths.

It is believed that over half of all orchids are pollinated during the day by bees and wasps. The orchid flowers have scents like narcissus, lily of the valley and sweet peas. The colors of the flowers tend to be bright blue, yellow, purple or green.

Fragrant Orchids – The Orchids That Have Delightful Aromas

What follows is a list of some of the most fragrant orchids. It is not comprehensive, but lists a few types of orchids that have noticeable aromas.

Ada glumacea – strong fruity aroma

Rhyncholaelia digbyana – citrus-like scent

Brassavola cucullata – sweet smelling aroma

Angraecum Longiscott Hihimanu – sweet aroma at night

Zygopetalum B.G. White Stonehurst – intense sweet aroma

Maxillaria tenuifolia – smells like coconut

Den. Delicatum Brechts – smells like wintergreen

Epidendrums Veitchii – mild rose-like aroma

Cattleyas have a strong sweet aroma

Oncidium Sharry Baby – smells of chocolate

Oncidium ornithorynchum – very sweet smell

Rhyncholaelia glauca – strong aroma at night

Cymbidium Golden Elf Sundust – smells of sweet bath powder

Cymbidium tracyanum – peaches

Epidendrum parkinsonianumm – aroma of cloves at night

Epidendrum L. purpurata – licorice

Source by Anna M. Hartman