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Rumphius' OrchidsOrchid Texts from The Ambonese Herbal$

Georgius Rumphius

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780300098143

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300098143.001.0001

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The Red Angrek

The Red Angrek

Chapter:
(p.22) Chapter Three The Red Angrek
Source:
Rumphius' Orchids
Author(s):

Georgius Everhardus Rumphius

Publisher:
Yale University Press
DOI:10.12987/yale/9780300098143.003.0003

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter elaborates the features and development of the red Angrek, which has only one species, even ropier than the foregoing. The stem that bears the flowers has the length of two and a half spans, round, stiff, divided into various side branches which bear the flowerlets. The flower-bearing stem has red lines as well, and the leaves taste somewhat sour and slightly salty. The fruits are easily a finger joint long, half a finger thick. Both back and front are pointed, with a dirty yellow color, somewhat triangular, but with six protruding ridges, striped lengthwise. It grows mostly on the beach, with its many tendrils creeping through the shrubbery, although it will always have a rotten piece of wood or old root as its place of origin.

Keywords:   red Angrek, flower, flowerlets, flower-bearing stem, trianglular

The fourth kind of Angrec1 is the red one, which has only one species, even more ropy2 than the foregoing, for it is a long rope that runs with long branches through tangled thickets,3 but one will not find its root anchored in the ground, but here and there on an old rotten tree; the branches are the thickness of one's little finger, round, hard, and stiff, but snap readily when broken off; they bear the leaves, and not in separate tufts like the first kind, but on this flower-bearing stem [itself] alternately above each other, four or five inches long, two wide, very thick and stiff, with a slight bulge near the stem, a blunt tip, divided into two, otherwise without ridges, except that, from below, one can see the central sinew protrude a little.

The stem that bears the flowers, has the length of two and a half spans,4 round, stiff, divided into various side branches that bear the flowerlets; these are the size of common Hyacinths, crowded together, at right angles from the stem, fashioned from five small leaflets, of which the two broadest ones are curved down, and the three narrower ones are curved upwards, with a bright yellow background, flecked with red lines and dots, so that the entire cluster seems to be fiery red, with (p.23) a small purse or cup of the same color in the center. Their disposition is not the same, for the widest leaves are now on top and then below.

The flower-bearing stem has red lines as well; the leaves taste somewhat sour and slightly salty.

The fruits are easily a finger joint long, half a finger thick, both back and front are pointed, with a dirty yellow color, somewhat triangular, but with six protruding ridges, striped lengthwise, and inside one will see the same yellow fibrous marrow as in the other Angreks, and the rest of the flower is on top, being a six-leaved starlet.

Name. In Latin Angraecum rubrum;5 in Malay Angrec mera; the Ambonese have no specific name for it.

Place. It grows mostly on the beach, with its many tendrils creeping through the shrubbery, although it will always have a rotten piece of wood or old root as its place of origin. One will also find it running up trees in valleys, and along rivers, where its fiery red amidst the green offers a beautiful spectacle.

Use. It has no general use, except that one can place the young leaves in Vinegar and Salt, either by themselves or mixed with some Atsjaar,6 when they will taste like Cappars,7 but you cannot suck on them much, because they are too fibrous, and you will get little more than the taste of Cappers. One should choose the thickest and fattest leaves for this purpose, ones that grow on the beach and in more open thickets, for these will have a pleasant saltiness, and are to be preferred to the ones from the forest.

This Angraecum rubrum8 has a variation or commingled shape (p.24) with the subsequent Octavum sive furvum.9 The leaves are somewhat larger, five or six inches long, two wide, with a double tip, the flowers are red, yellow, or orange, similar to the dried Mace of Nutmegs, without points, also with five leaflets, of which the two broadest ones hang down, and the other three stand upright, and the flower cluster is divided into several small side branches. One does not see this species on trees, like the other Angreks, but it grows on the beach in the thickets, with long woody twigs like ropes, similar to the foregoing, which have a spongy and watery marrow inside.

But I cannot say, however, that these two kinds spring from the ground, for they run so far through the thickest shrubs, that one cannot reach the root, and the few I encountered, had established themselves on old rotten stumps and decayed twigs.

Notes:

(1) . Original text in 11.3.6:101.

Smith (M, p. 179) lists this as Renanthera moluccana Bl.

(2) . “Zeeliger” in the original, hence the comparative of zeel, for which see n. 13 of the previous chapter. “Roping” was a noun used in Rumphius' century for “a ropy or rope-like formation” (OED).

(3) . For the original “in't kreupel bos tussen de ruigte.”

(4) . A span was the equivalent of about nine inches, hence the stem is about twenty-two inches long.

(5) . “The Red Orchid”; the Indonesian phrase means the same thing. De Wit (p. 68), though not disagreeing with J. J. Smith, thinks that this epiphyte could also be Renanthera coccinea Lour.

(6) . Now spelled acar, this refers to pickles or anything preserved in an acid liquid.

(7) . From the Latin, originally Greek, capparis, here a kind of tropical capers. Rumphius writes that the fruits of a small tree (Carissa carandas L.) were eaten either raw or, most often, after having been pickled. He describes it in the “Auctuarium” or 7. 74.7:57–58.

(8) . This plant has not been identified.

(9) . See ch. 6.