Like many wealthy people of the Victorian Era, Charles Darwin was a passionate orchid collector. He was amazed by their beautifully complex shapes, patterns and structures, and he began amassing a collection of rare specimens from around the world. Even before he wrote On the Origin of Species, Darwin knew that every unique orchid flower must be a result of some advantage that was bestowed upon that species in its particular habitat.
During the Victorian Era, there was a botanical equivalent of ‘gold fever’. Wealthy collectors sent explorers to all corners of the world to discover new, exquisite types of orchid. The finest specimens could fetch very high prices indeed, and explorers risked their lives just to find them, travelling through dangerous, unmapped territory in search of these beautiful, delicate flowers.