From decorative arts to religious stories to regional recipes, orchids figure prominently in the cultures of Latin America. The Aztecs were said to value vanilla–made from the seed pods of a vining orchid–so highly that it was used to pay taxes. Early instruments were held together by glue made from the flowers. And some tortilla recipes called for Stanhopea blooms.
Representing their origins in Latin America, hundreds of orchids will be on display as part of the Natural History Museum’s “Orchids of Latin America” exhibit, opening January 26.
Complete with a Mexican plaza and a winding path through beds of the exotic flowers, the exhibit will feature nearly 600 flowers with a twice-weekly rotation to keep the blooms fresh. The show offers a warm escape from the bitter winter and a chance to see the flowers that were said to aid Montezuma in his encounters with his wives or that are still a featured part of religious ceremonies.