Of the five entries this month, three were spider orchids and the winner was from this group. It was Rob Pauley’s Arachnorchis cardiochila (syn Caladenia cardiochila), Heart Lip Spider Orchid which can be found across South Australia and into western Victoria. At one time a specimen was found on Flinders Island, Tasmania but as it was collected in 1947 it is considered extinct in that region.
This lovely flower is quite variable in colour and form.
The heart shape labellum is a distinctive feature of this spider orchid, so it is not surprising that this is reflected in the name. Cardio means heart and chila lip.
What probably is surprising is that the traditional heart shape symbol has come full circle. It had a botanical origin. According to cardiologist Professor Armin Dietz the symbol was originally a stylized vine/ivy leaf as evidenced from paintings on goblets from the 3rd millennium. In the Middle Ages, doctors and anatomists used the shape to represent the heart. As at that time Latin and Greek were both the international languages of scholars, including doctors, the word associated with the symbol was the Greek word kardia (ie cardio) meaning heart. Consequently, by the time Ralph Tate names this species in 1887, the shape has become intrinsically linked with the heart and so it must have appeared to him as an obvious descriptive name.
There are several field guides which give a detailed description of the species including South Australia’s Native Orchids DVD-ROM which is available for sale from NOSSA.
http://www.heartsymbol.com/english/index.html accessed 28th August 2015
The texts published on this website are taken from his book “Ewige Herzen – Kleine Kulturgeschichte der Herzbestattungen” (“Eternal Hearts – a short cultural history of heart burials”), published 1998 in MMV Medien und Medizin Verlag, Munich. (English translation by Pauline Liesenfeld.)
http://data.rbg.vic.gov.au/vicflora/flora/taxon/bca2495d-3325-4c1b-b2c3-782566fb6bce accessed 28th August 2015
http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/Caladenia-cardiochila-listing-statement.pdf acessed 28th August 2015