Friday, July 13, 2018 - 10:00

A stunning new display of more than 500 orchids opens in the Rainforest Biome at the Eden Project today (Friday July 13).

The Bamboo House in the heart of the biggest rainforest in captivity has been re-modelled and turned into the exotic Orchid House, with a dazzling range of flowers exuding an array of captivating scents. 

Stars of the show are varieties of moth orchid, also known as Phalaenopsis, which have been installed over the last few days after being nurtured at Eden’s plant nursery. Species have been specially selected to ensure floral displays throughout the year.

The new exhibit – one of the largest displays of blooms in the Biome’s 17-year history – is set against the dramatic backdrop of a grove of giant bamboos. The horticulture team used sections of cut-down canes to create planters for the orchids.  

Eden’s Director of Life Sciences Dr Mike Maunder said:  “Orchids symbolise the exotic abundance of the tropics and they are amongst the most beautiful of all flowers. As part of the exploration of the Eden rainforest our guests will be both delighted and fascinated by extraordinary plants. Orchids have been hunted for centuries by commercial collectors - our exhibit in contrast comprises sustainable UK grown plants.”  

Inspiring the exhibit are the fascinating stories of Orchid Mania, which first took over the plant world in the 19th century, and the modern production of moth orchids.  

Today moth orchid cultivation is a multi-million pound industry and many varieties of this tropical wonder are produced all over the world.

There are currently more than 60 species in the genus Phalaenopsis, mainly from tropical South East Asia, with a species hot spot in the Philippines, with some growing as far north as the Himalayas.  

The name moth orchid was given by collectors who saw a resemblance to white moths in the tropical jungles. In the wild the flowers are pollinated by carpenter bees, who are deceived into visiting the flowers with the promise of nectar, which is never actually given by the orchids.

Eden’s new collection is from Double H Nurseries, a UK grower chosen for its high sustainability goals and production methods. Technical manager Howard Braine said: “The team are delighted Eden chose to bring on our orchids and support British growers. It’s amazing to think they take over two years to grow and will now be seen by thousands of visitors this summer.”

Last summer students from Writhlington School in Radstock, Somerset, planted a wall of 52 orchid species in the Rainforest Biome. The school has a nationally important collection of orchids grown from seed as part of the Orchid Project run by teacher Simon Pugh-Jones. Pupils travel to Rwanda and the Himalayas to help local children propagate the species, sharing their successful model across the world.

The new Orchid  House has been built by Marc Biddle, ex-Rainforest Biome horticulturist and now owner of Golden Oak, which specialises in wooden and bamboo structures.  

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