Salep orchids, commercial production.

Asked August 9, 2016, 10:14 PM EDT

Good afternoon, OSU, I please would like to ask if the special orchids known as "salep" might do well in Oregon's climate? These are used in numerous desserts, beverages and other recipes, especially in Europe and Asia. There is a severe shortage of them in Turkey, where they are usually grown commercially -- is there any chance that they might be able to be grown here commercially as well? I was thinking that it would be an unusual and interesting cash crop if the orchids were successful. Here are some articles which I had read - http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3126047.stm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salep https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dondurma Thank you, Lindsey Jauregui

Oregon

1 Response

I did a quick review on the plant and it is clear that it can be grown in the UK so it likely could be cultivated here. That said, I could find little cultural information (orchids can be a problem in commercial settings) and no evidence that is available for sale in this country as planting stock (tubers or seed). To be imported it would have to have a review by someone in USDA to make sure it wasn't carrying a disease or insect pest or that it would have a low potential to be a weed if it escaped cultivation. It sounds interesting from a culinary standpoint, From a little research, it seems that wild populations in Turkey and Greece (and perhaps elsewhere in the Mediterranean region are being decimated by over-harvesting.

I will continue to look for some U.S. sources of the plant. It might be possible to tissue culture the plant to increase supply rapidly if the value were there and fresh material was available to start the process. Chip

Chip Bubl OSU Extension agent/Horticulture 503 397-3462 chip.bubl@oregonstate.edu