Orchids provide respite from rain

HANAPEPE — Thunder temporarily interrupted the judging of orchids Friday morning as the team of American Orchid Society (AOS) judges welcomed the break in their concentrated efforts.

Outside the Hanapepe United Church of Christ social hall, rain piddled steadily, as curious spectators stopped to inquire about the opening of the orchid show.

Hosted by the Garden Island Orchid Society (GIOS), activity was hectic behind the closed doors of the social hall.

Wayne Ajimura, one of the vendors to the popular event, was urging members of the kitchen crew to stir up an order of six plate lunches so he could deliver them to staff members at one of the neighborhood banks.

“Wow, I should have gone to all the banks,” he said while waiting. “If I got six orders only from one bank, I could have had a lot more if I went to the others.”

Organizers said that everything was already in place, so cancellation of the popular event was hard to do.

Ada Koene, chairperson for this year’s show, said that, on her way to Hanapepe, she overheard tourists at a Kalaheo coffee shop inquiring about the show’s status. “It’s something for them to do,” she said.

Koene, who is also a vendor at the event, said that she has a new item this year, refrigerator magnets that feature various blooms from members of the GIOS.

The word “orchid” usually makes people think of Hawai‘i, but they are surprised to find that, because of its remote location, Hawai‘i is home to only three small, endemic, terrestrial orchids, according to a flier that is available to patrons to the show.

This year’s show and sale offers a tribute to the contributions of orchids from Asia and the Western Pacific Rim. These contributions benefit orchid-industry members as well as the multitude of hobbyists in Hawai‘i.

Initially, many of the orchid species found growing in Hawai‘i today were brought in by seamen and plantation owners traveling to and from, or through, Hawai‘i from Australia, China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and other parts of the Pacific.

A phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, specimen took one of two AOS special awards presented at the show that opened Friday afternoon in Hanapepe.

The moth orchid hybrids have been produced from about 50 wild species that are centered around the Philippines.

However, many fear that this species has disappeared from the wild. Phalaenopsis orchids are probably the most widely-produced genus of orchids in the world today.

Australia is home to about 700 species in 70 genera, 70 percent of those that are found no-where else in the world.

Dendrobiums and cymbidium orchids are just two that are known here in Hawai‘i.

Taiwan is another country whose residents host a variety of native species. Today, Taiwanese are the world’s largest exporter of orchids. They presently have 40 percent of the world’s market share, and do a lot of hybridizing.

Since leaders of the American government have approved them for import, people can see a lot more of the Taiwanese orchids.

The GIOS show and sale continue from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. today, and organizers added that plate lunches, snacks, and a variety of baked goods are available.

Returning from his delivery run, Ajimura ordered himself a corned-beef plate, and settled among his orchids.

“I never had breakfast, and it’s way past my lunch hour,” he said as he prepared himself for the doors to open.

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