Foxtail orchids can be used for decorative purposes and in skincare products, Kung Tai-wen (龔泰文), director of a Pingtung-based orchid association, said.
Kung, who advises the orchid and vanilla research club at North Pingtung Community University, said that he has over the past 18 years helped about 300 students develop an interest in growing non-toxic foxtail orchids.
The students are growing about 1,500 orchids in a greenhouse, where they use natural fertilizers and biological pest control methods, he said.
Over the past few years, orchid exports have flourished, with producers in the Netherlands and Southeast Asia increasing their market share, he said.
Taiwan must promote orchids for many occasions if it wants to become an “orchid empire,” he added.
Kung said he and his students are working with a biotechnology company to develop beauty and skincare products made from the plants.