The history of trade of Colombian Orchids in the UK during the 19th century


Academic Series (2023): Trade, Technology and Politics: Creating an enduring link between Colombia and the United Kingdom

In the second of these three presentations,Camilo Uribe-Botta, PhD candidate in History at University of Warwick, will analyse the commercial relationships between the two countries through the lens of flower exchange in the nineteenth century.
The event will be held at the Colombian Consulate, 35 Portland Place, London W1B 1AE on Wednesday 11th of October from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
6:00pm – Doors open
6:30pm – Talk starts
7:00 pm – Q & A session
7:30pm -8:30pm – Networking reception.  


‘From Barranquilla to Southampton: the commerce of Colombian orchids during the 19th century’ Colombia is the richest country in the world in orchids, with more than 4,270 species! The national flower, the Cattleya trianae, is a symbol of the beauty and richness of Colombian biodiversity. Protected by international laws, orchids are endangered and delicate plants, and they serve as an indicator of the state of conservation of their environment. However, long before orchids became a Colombian national symbol, during the 19th century, these plants were intensively extracted from the Colombian forests to supply the increasing British demand. This Victorian passion for tropical orchids, including Colombian ones such as the Odontoglossum crispum, was known as Orchidomania.


In this conference Camilo Uribe-Botta will talk about the the story behind the success of Colombian orchids during the 19th century. It is a rich and complex story of extractivism, speculation, danger, and success. The network on both sides of the Atlantic included botanists, diplomats, gardeners, businessmen, travellers, artists, men and women of science, indigenous people, and campesinos who made this rich exchange possible. Colombian orchids served as botanical curiosities, scientific objects, and commodities, navigating not only between Barranquilla and Southampton but also between the realms of science and commerce.   Dr. Erna von der Walde will be the moderator of this presentation. She is an independent academic researcher, translator, and author of articles on 19th and 20th century Colombian and Latin American literature and culture.  
Camilo Uribe Botta is a historian and currently a PhD candidate in History at the University of Warwick. His research about the commerce of plants between Colombia and the United Kingdom focuses in the history of science, material culture and environmental history. He studied his BA and MA at the Universidad de los Andes and worked for more than 5 years at the ‘Museo Colonial and Museo Santa Clara’ from the Ministry of Culture in Colombia.