- Right top: Orchis italica. Woodcut from John Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum. (London: 1640).
The individual flowers of this Mediterranean orchid have an extraordinary resemblance to miniature well-endowed satyrs. Together with the two testis-like tubers this feature must have led early physicians to believe that plants of this kind could be used as love potions. Parkinson and his colleagues called this group of orchids ‘fooles stones’ because of the resemblance of the three upper lobes of the flower to a large fool’s or jester’s hat. This is strongly evident in the photograph below.