Researching history on orchids this morning, I learned a number of facts, including the Greek word for testicle: Orkhis. By some accounts, the name of the plant came from the reminiscent shape of the bulbous root. By others it’s from the myth of Orchis, the son of a nymph and a satyr. True to his namesake, the lad went to a celebratory feast for Bacchus, the God of Wine, and in his drunken state, attempted to rape a priestess. This sacrilege resulted in being torn apart by wild beasts. His next incarnation was as a plant, the orchid.
Due to the graphically erotic male and female parts that make up a single orchid blossom, the Victorian, John Ruskin, called them ‘prurient apparitions,’ almost as if they alone could lead men like Orchis astray. It’s true that orchids have been used in fertility treatments and aphrodisiacs, and they certainly have tricky methods for insuring pollination. But not one is known to have raped, pillaged, to have been violent, judgmental, poisonous, or even to have had any bad imaginings. All those activities are left up to the humans.