Orchidelirium: The Obsession with Orchids

Orchids outside Audubon House & Tropical Gardens. Source: (Jeffrey Greenberg/UIG via Getty Images)

The Victorian era, orchids were rare and elusive, but folks were smitten with their exotic beauty. In fact, collecting orchids was an obsession, and flower-crazed collectors sought special blooms from all over the world. When they weren’t hunting for the delicate flowers, they were tending to their collection of living orchids in their private greenhouses. Orchidmania was sweeping the world and led to a condition called “orchidelirium,” in which people became so obsessed with the flowers that they sank thousands of dollars into their orchid collections. For them, orchids represented rarity, beauty, and most likely, were a symbol of status. Let’s look at the flower fad that caused orchidelirium.