Would you believe that there is a type of orchid flower that looks like a little haning naked man? Yes, it might not be believable but the petals of this orchid actually resemble the shape of a man with arms and legs and even the reproductive organ! If this was not enough, the marks that are found in these flowers make it look like this naked hanging man has a smile and two eyes. This flower is found in clusters making it look like all the men (petals) are hanging, so for this reason the name is hanging naked man orchid.
About the Hanging Naked Man Orchid
- Different Names and Area of origin – The scientific name of this orchid is Orchis italica and it belongs to the Orchidaceae family. Besides the name “hanging naked man”, it is widely known as the Italian orchid. It is native to the Mediterranean areas and regions like Jordan, Turkey, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Israel, Greece and other such places
- Light and Shade requirement – This orchid plant will only be able to bloom properly and fully if it remain under partial shades. Too much light hurts the growth of this very delicate orchid.
- Soil Conditions – The Italian orchid needs the presence of fungus in the soil to grow properly and it is best if the soil is wet. The habitats of this orchid are calcareous soils in garigue, pine woodland (open spaces) and grassland. But, it should be mentioned that, the orchid is frost tolerant and has the ability to grow in zone up to zone 5.
- Height – Besides this, the hanging naked man orchid will need an altitude of about 1300 meters to grow properly. If given all the favorable conditions, this orchid plant will bloom in a large and dense cluster like most European orchids. Along with this, you can also expect the plant to grow up to an impressive 20 inches high, which is 50 centimeters.
- Types of colors – The flowers come in many different colors like different shades of pink, white, purple and even yellow. Besides this, it also comes in different sizes too.
- Blooming season – The flowers can be seen blooming during the month of March and April.
- Some Interesting facts – An interesting (and ironic) thing about this species of orchid is that it is hermaphrodite. This means; the flower has both the female as well as the male organs. The pollination process is done with the help of insects. Here, it should be mentioned that the hybrids of this orchid has kind of a broader petals which enclose the flower’s top part giving it a resemblance to a hood or helmet or bonnet.
In ancient times many people believed that if a plant is in a shape of a body organ, then upon consumption it could provide relief to any problem the consumer may also have in that particular organ. Therefore, eue to its resemblance to the male’s reproductive organ, since the times of the Roman Empire this orchid was used as a treatment for men’s virility problems. As well, it was also used as an aphrodisiac.
The medical use of the hanging naked man orchid does not end with this. This orchid is also known to have anti-flatulent properties (flatulence causing gas in a person’s digestive system). It also happens to have demulcent properties, meaning it will help in smoothing the skin. Besides this, it is also very well known for having nutritive and anti-diarrheal properties (best for children).
The hanging naked man orchid has a tuberous root which is full of nutrition. The root in question can be dried and then made into a flour like substance, kind of like arrowroot. This powder or flour is known as Salep. In England it is sometimes used as a coffee alternative. However the most popular edible item made by this powder is a drink and it is known as the Turkish Delight.
Because of its use for making Turkish beverages and desserts and other uses in other countries, the hanging naked man orchid has the “threatened status”. Because of this “status” it is illegal for someone to try to export pure salep from regions in or near the Mediterranean or trying to harvest the plant from the wild. However, it is now possible to purchase the seeds of this orchid.