Corybas is a genus that consists of approximately 120 small terrestrial orchid species. They occur from the foothills of the Himalayas and Southern China, throughout South-East Asia, Australia, New Zealand, to islands near Antarctica and in the Pacific Ocean. Some species belong to the most southern growing orchids.
This is not just ‘a book’. This is a MONUMENT, for a group of orchids that live in the richest biodiversity hotspots of the world and contributed greatly to orchid culture and breeding. Both aspects, nature and culture, are lavishly illustrated in this book.
The name ‘bee orchid’ is used all over Europe to designate a species of Ophrys of which the flower looks like a bee. But there are more orchids that have ‘bearing an insect’ in their name.
The genus name itself, Ophrys, comes from Ancient Greek, although there are two versions of its origin: one meaning ‘eyebrow’, in allusion to the lip, usually hairy in this genus. Another version states that it comes from the Greek ophirys, which in turn comes from ophis, that is, ‘serpent’.
Did you read previous parts of this series? And did you notice that, almost without exception, orchids were named after men, by other men? Well, here is such an exception: there is an orchid genus named after the very talented botanical illustrator Sarah-Anne Drake (1803-1857) – better known as Miss Drake, the name she used to sign her paintings.
As we saw in earlier parts of this series, orchid names are usually in Latin or ancient Greek. A rich source of these names is found in Greek mythology. No less than seven orchid species have been named after Medusa. But who was she?