Unlikely Cousins: Asparagus and Orchids

April 8, 2010

Skinny asparagus

I was surprised to learn that asparagus is related to the orchid family:

“Through DNA analysis, scientists have now restructured the branch of the floral or botanical family tree that contained the orchid family, and the orchids are now placed in a position quite unrelated to lilies.  In fact, the orchid family is from the same origins as the common asparagus.”
     — Marc Hachadouruan, Botanica Magnifica

I was reminded of this last week when I went to the Volunteer Park Conservatory and saw several varieties of orchids in bloom.  The sure don’t look much like asparagus!

Orchid, Volunteer Park Conservatory

Orchid with lovely chocolate stripes

The lip of a graceful orchid

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