Okika o Hawaii ~ Pressed for Time exhibit on display

Windward Community College, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Teri L Skillman-Kashyap, (808) 956-8688
Events & Communications Coordinator, Library Services
Library Reference Desk, 235-7338,
WCC Library, Hale La'akea
Posted: Jan 29, 2010

Hamilton Library at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa is proud to announce the installation of the traveling exhibit entitled, ‘Okika o Hawai‘i ~ Pressed for Time, at Windward Community College for the Spring 2010 semester.  The exhibit, on view in Hale La’akea, the WCC Library, is the result of collaboration between several campus and community partners.  Nancy Heu, WCC Head Librarian is hosting the exhibit and Inge White, Associate Professor of Natural Science, is the on-site curator.  Prof. White is one of the collaborators for the original installation in Hamilton Library in the Summer of 2009.

Orchids have captivated humankind’s imagination since time immemorial, and are the largest and most diverse plant family on Earth.  They are cosmopolitan, occurring in almost every habitat apart from deserts and glaciers.  The majority of orchids are found in the tropics, mostly Asia, South America and Central America. They are found above the Arctic Circle in southern Patagonia and even on Macquarie Island, close to Antarctica.  The first hint of orchids in the fossil record suggests that orchids are old enough to have coexisted with dinosaurs, 76 to 84 million years ago.

The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew lists 880 genera and nearly 22,000 accepted species, but the exact number is unknown and may perhaps be as many as 25,000 species.  The number of orchid species equals about four times the number of mammal species, or more than twice the number of bird species.

The majority of orchids are perennial epiphytes, which grow anchored to trees or shrubs in the tropics and subtropics. Other species are lithophytes -- growing on rocks or very rocky soil -- or they are terrestrial. Nearly all temperate orchids are terrestrial.

Orchids are one of the most widely recognizable and studied organisms, not only studied by evolutionary biologists such as Charles Darwin, who was fascinated with orchids’ spectacular adaptations for insect pollination but also as a source of inspiration for artists.  Over the centuries orchids have been a symbol of love, luxury and beauty.  They have been used as a remedy for illnesses and have also been considered an aphrodisiac and a main ingredient in love potions.  The most famous orchid used as a spice for ice cream is Vanilla planifolia, more commonly known as vanilla.

Historically considered a flower of the wealthy, the orchid has been transformed by humankind to become one of the most widely collected household plants.  In modern times, horticulturalists have artificially created more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.  Unfortunately, this global popularity has had serious consequences and today many orchids are threatened and endangered by loss of natural habitat, and over-collection.

In the traveling exhibit, we present botanical prints and rare orchids native to the Hawaiian Islands; the way in which orchids transformed the landscape through agricultural development, university research, and commercial enterprise in Hawaiʻi; and the cultural uses of the orchid in Hawaiian lei making, music, and hula.

The exhibit will be on view through the Spring semester 2010 in Hale La’akea.  For up-to-date building hours, please call 235-7338 or check the Library’s website ~ http://library.wcc.hawaii.edu/.