For centuries orchids have exerted a particular fascination on us. At its worst, this orchid mania manifests itself in the removal of wild plants for private collections, an environmental sin that reached a peak in Victorian times when orchids were plundered around the world to feed the orchidelerium craze. Sadly, it continues to this day: some of Britain and Ireland’s most endangered species are still illegally dug up. So it’s important that we behave responsibly while orchidhunting with naked eye and camera. Always be careful not to accidentally damage nearby plants, and, at particularly sensitive sites, stick to marked paths.
Left: collecting wildflowers, particularly orchids, became a craze in the Victorian era. Below: a botanical illustration published in 1846 of the desirable plants.