The family Orchidaceae, popularly known as orchids, are perennial herbs that are found on every continent in the world except Antarctica. Orchids are monocotyledons which evolved from primitive monocots that also gave rise to lilies and amaryllis. As orchids developed, they became a very large family of about 650 genera and perhaps 20,000 or more species, more than any other family of plants. They mate across species easily, and there are probably 200,000 or more hybrids in existence today. Orchid species might be terrestrial (growing in earth), epiphytic (growing on another living plant), or less commonly saprophytic (subsisting on decomposing material). They tend to be epiphytes in tropical and subtropical forests, terrestrial in temperate and arctic regions. Although orchids are not a food crop, one Central American orchid yields the fragrant and delicious vanilla bean.

Orchid stamens and pistils are fused together into one structure, and the plants are prized for the resulting beautiful flowers. Typically, these flowers have three petals and three petal-like sepals, the middle one of which (the lip or labellum) is swollen and covered with pollen to attract insects. Apparently orchid flowers, which vary widely in shape and size, are specialized to attract local insects; for example, the huge African waxflower, which has a labellum over a foot long, is pollinated by a moth with an equally long tongue. These specific adaptations help explain the wide variation in orchid flowers.

Of the many many species of orchids, cultivators focus on a mere handful, and they tend to be hybrids of tropical epiphytes. Although orchids have a reputation as being difficult to grow, most people could cultivate at least one type, for there is such variation in ideal conditions that one is bound to suit your home environment. In general, epiphytic orchids prefer conditions that mimic their home environment on branches near the tops of tropical canopies: gently moving, rather than stagnant, air; shaded light rather than glaring sun; a porous, organic growth medium; and daily misting with pure water - distilled or pure rainwater is best. Beyond this, they are a varied lot, and some like cool temperatures, some warm; most prefer humid air, but some tolerate dry. Provided that the orchid is in its ideal conditions, it should grow easily, but what exactly those conditions are for each species is best found out by conferring with an orchid afficionado. Because orchid growers tend to become quite passionate about their hobby, it shouldn't be too difficult to find them in your area and pump them for information. Or check out one of the many orchid lovers' websites, including:

A dangerous, if curious, weapon that seems to follow folks around in Dhalgren. It is a collection of blades fixed to a bracelet-like device used to attach the weapon to the hand. When worn, the blades encase the hand entirely. However, their curvature prevents the blades from injuring the wearer's hand. By alternately expanding and contracting the hand, the blades can be opened and closed.

The orchid is a weapon unique to the strange world of Dhalgren. It is mostly passive, though one could easily suppose that its very presence (its necessity?) changes the characters and events around it. For the most part it is not used like a weapon within the story.

Orchid was Will Killingsworth, Jeff Salane, Geoff Garlock and Jayson Green. These four men were hardly out of their teens when they formed the band in Amherst, MA in the mid-nineties at Hampshire College. The boys musical influences were all from within the hardcore sphere. They took the lyrical subject matter and beauty of emocore and mixed it with the blinding intensity of power violence, grindcore and other extreme musical forms.

The boys have three major releases, all on Ebullition Records:

  1. Chaos Is Me a 45 rpm 12" record with eleven songs on it, this helped define the Orchid sound. It was more unique than their earlier, more generic thrash/hardcore records, and was where their lyrical uniqueness first came out. Their lyrics were personal, anguished and vague but with an arty sensibility which would come to the fore on later records.
  2. Dance Tonight! Revolution Tomorrow! a 45 rpm 10" record with another ten songs. These were a more refined version of the already unique Orchid sound, having a focus on melody and incorporating that into their bludgeoning attack. The lyrics this time around feature a newfound fascination with Situationalism and revolution through empowerment of the subculture. A highlight is the near six minute closer, "...And The Cat Turned To Smoke" which features a haunting violin outro as the guitar distortion fades.
  3. Orchid is their only length recording to be played at 33 rpm. It was finally released in 2002, soon before the band played their final four shows in Providence, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston. The lyrics get even more arty, with references to Anais Nin and Michel Foucault. The sound here, while oftentimes it does sound similar to the ear-bleeding chaos of old, is also spruced up with sound collage, keyboards and studio trickery. For some reason a great many of the songs on this record are about getting laid, and empowerment through sexuality.
Besides these records, the band has released split 7"s with grindcore masters Pig Destroyer (their first release), chaotic hardcore band The Red Scare and Encyclopedia Of American Traitors. The also released a split 6" with bludgeoning noisecore band Combat Wounded Veteran and a skull-shaped 10" split record with Jerome's Dream. They also released one self-titled 7" on Hand Held Heart records soon after they formed.

Even before their 2002 breakup, the band members had gone on to release records with other projects. The Panthers feature Geoff, Jeff and Jayson, Wolves features an ex-member of Orchid, and Will runs Dead Air Studio and Clean Plate Records. He's also one of the driving forces behind the band Bucket Full of Teeth.

Or"chid (?), n. [See Orchis.] Bot.

Any plant of the order Orchidaceae. See Orchidaceous.


© Webster 1913.

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