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Lady’s Slipper

28/07/2009

Lady's Slipper Orchid

There are many ways to destroy things.
This orchid became extinct in Britain because of its beauty, which caused orchidilerium in humans.

It grows only in very specific circumstances, and then only with the ministrations of a particular fungal consort, so the obsession with collecting it gradually wiped it out.

In the last few years attempts have been made to reintroduce it in the wild. Apparently there are one or two on a secret hill in Yorkshire, protected from the criminal or the clumsy by a twenty four hour guard.

Let me count the ways I leave you

1
Caught by a bright flash in the corner

I toddle as you drop through the coarse net of me

In which every light winks

And every one is cut

Chasing a flutter of of colour

I run on a carpet of chrysalides

2
Restless at the inconvenience

I remake Truth

Mattress by mattress

And place your pea on a pedestal

To elucidate my nightmares

3
Coveting the beauty of what you have

I simply take it

And when it wanes before my eyes

Scrabble in your cold grave

For the secrets of your husbandry

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 30/07/2009 12:32 pm

    When I was young, I killed hundreds of insects
    for making specimen collection. And later, I
    helped many botanists for their research expeditions.
    So that, I might be tortured by thousands of insects
    while entangled by the spiky Pundanus plant in the hell,
    ——if its there.
    (Even though I shouldn’t believe the existence of the
    hell,this thought never left in my mind)

  2. 01/09/2009 4:44 pm

    The English orchid “Orchis mascula” is one source of the historically fascinating “salep” root, from which what was at one time a very popular hot beverage was concocted. If these and other herbarium specimens are to be disposed of, I will gladly pay postage to have them sent the the National Museum of Hospital and Pharmaceutical History. Perhaps there are some specimens that relate to the history of pharmacy; if not, old herbarium specimens like these make lovely home decor pieces when framed! Please do let me know!

  3. Leander permalink
    07/10/2009 11:46 am

    The Collections Development Panel, along with the director and the artist, discussed the Lady’s Slipper Orchid specimens at a meeting on 3rd September

    The blog responses and discussions were summarised as:
    “Collected by Grindon. Paul Baxendale expressed interest in it for the national Museum of Hospital and Pharmaceutical History, but no-one came out to support his proposal. Currently the site of living orchids on North York Moors has to be protected by security.”

    The group suggest that we retain the specimens as public interest best served by use in museum.

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