TAMPA - It is often described as one of nature’s most beautiful creations. But questions are being raised about a new species of orchid -- whether it’s a true natural wonder, or just a costly man-made invention.
Long known as a flower of distinction, orchids are described by fans as exotic, majestic flowers. So it was no surprise that orchids were part of Lauren Armetta’s Mother’s Day basket this year. They are her favorite flower.
“The white one I got from my daughter and the other two I got from my daughter’s best friend,” Armetta said.
But one flower stood out. “This is the first I’ve seen blue orchids, and something told me they’ve got to use food coloring or something,” she said.
Armetta’s suspicion only grew when she watered the blue orchid. “Once the bottom filled up and I tipped it over, the blue water came out,” Armetta said.
Called 'Blue Mystique,' it’s dubbed the world’s first phalaenopsis blue orchid. The I-Team, along with our sister station in West Palm Beach, found blue orchids on display at Home Depot and Lowe’s selling for various prices, but in each case, more than orchids of other colors.
At the American Orchid Society’s world headquarters in Delray Beach, the Blue Mystique has been cultivating questions here for months. “We don’t sell them because that would be an endorsement,” said center director Ron McHatton.
McHatton says the orchid may cost more, but consumers should know they’re plain. “They’re not real blue orchids. They’re white orchids that have been dyed,” McHatton said.
Lauren Armetta laughed when she heard McHatton’s comments. “See, I was so right!” she said.
So who’s behind the Blue Mystique. The Silver Vase company that sells the flowers declined an interview with our sister station in West Palm Beach, only saying the infusion process is a heavily guarded secret. On its website, the company touts its blue color as “the result of a patented process that infuses white orchids with a special medium.”
Lauren Armetta noticed the blue color on her orchids fading back to white. She believes the company should change the labeling on the flowers. “At least market it to say not a hybrid, not natural. Mother Nature did not create this,” Armetta said.
Silver Vase is now responding to these consumer concerns. New labels will let consumers know they’re not really blue. The labels say, in part, “With a little bit of magic, we turn a white orchid blue.”
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Deveante Bell, 19, is charged with the death of Yellow Cab driver John Dooley on Sunday evening. Dooley, 56, was found in his cab in the driveway of an abandoned house.