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Naked Man Orchid

Naked Man Orchid – Orchis Italica

Are you an orchid or flower lover? Before laughing about these, you might want to consider their uses in a sustainable garden. They could surely become a topic of conversation for various reasons.

There’s this viral meme going around the internet that people giggle about, because these come in all shapes and sizes (if ya know what I mean). But these flower bulbs are edible.

Naked Man Orchid, aka Orchis Italica, is native to the Mediterranean region, areas formerly known as the Ottoman Empire.

They require fungus in the soil to grow and prefer wet soil. So if you’re a fan of ramial wood chips, which are ideal medium for growing fungus, these would be an ideal flower to grow. They are frost tolerant and can be grown in zones up to zone 5.

Orchis Italica

Edible Use

Salep is prepared by drying the root and forming it into a powder. Salep, also known as “saloop” in England, is a beverage consumed as an alternative to coffee. The powder is added to hot water until thickened, and then various flavorings added, such as rose water. When milk is used instead of water, it’s sometimes known as Turkish Delight.

Because the drink is so popular in Turkey, it’s created a decline in the wild orchid population. So it’s now illegal to export true salep powder.

Medicinal Uses

These orchids have very nutritious tubers and can be made into a flour similar to arrowroot, known as salep. It’s used in Turkey (and other areas) in desserts and beverages. One (dried) ounce is enough to sustain a person for a day (a survival food).

It’s especially good for children and convalescents and helps the intestines to heal (probably due to diarrhea or intestinal viruses). It is documented as antidiarrheal, antiflatulent, demulcent and nutritive. Like most plants whose shape give indications of organs or parts of the body that can be healed, this one is no different. Since ancient Roman times, it’s said to be an aphrodisiac and can help with men’s virility.

Where to buy

Well that is the challenge. I searched for over an hour on the internet, and because it’s a wildflower in “threatened status,” it cannot be harvested wild – they cannot be picked or harmed. Very few places sell it, and when they do, it’s the seed. The seeds are difficult to propagate without a fungal soil. The fungus is needed to make the seed viable.

The only place I was able to locate it online, from Medlock Valley Orchids, is in the UK. And they are out of stock. You may want to inquire if they will be getting anymore in the future.

There are various posts by people, chatting in forums, about seeing fields of them growing on the countryside in France or Spain. But since they’re protected, one cannot disturb them. I imagine this is why mostly the seeds are used, since this practice wouldn’t disturb them (or shouldn’t anyway).

If you know of a source to get these, please comment on this post!

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