Illuminated Vandas at Longwood
Oil on Canvas, 48" x 48", 2013
Orchid: Vanda coerulea
Native Range: From Assam and Khasi Hills (India)
to Yunnan province (China), Myanmar and norther Thailand
Pollinator: Large Carpenter bees of the genus Xylocopa
Conservation Status: Critically endangered in Assam where it was first found but widespread in the eastern Himalayas
"Sunlight filtered through the grand conservatory’s windows of Longwood Gardens, as I studied this orchid.
Elongated patterns of light and dark fell across the blue-violet and white Vandas, shadowing some, illuminating others. With both architectures-windows and petals-designed to inspire with light, the Vandas appeared more like butterflies than flowers, their delicate blooms, sensual and mysterious.
First discovered in Assam, India by William Griffith in 1847, Vanda coerulea, caused a sensation in Europe because of the flower’s beautiful large flowers and rare in the wild, blue color. Expeditions flocked to India to collect this and other orchid species for the hothouses of passionate European orchid enthusiast.
Commonly called the Blue Vanda, this species, has long been used by the indigenous peoples of the region as a treatment for lung disease, various digestive diseases, and skin disorders.
Unfortunately, due to severe pressure from over collecting and habitat destruction, these plants are virtually gone from their originally discovered habitat in Assam.
The good news is that they are no longer listed on CITES, Appendix I; those plants and animals threatened with imminent extinction, thanks to captive breeding programs.”