Legend has it that witches used the tuberous roots of orchids which resemble human testicles to prepare magic potions: fresh ones to promote love, and dried ones to provoke passion. Seventeenth-century herbalists called them Satyrias, in reference to the Greek mythology god Satyros, who lived in forests and had short horns and goat legs and feet. In Portuguese, the word satiro is also a synonym for debauched and libidinous. According to a legend, Orchis, son of a satyr and a nymph, was murdered by the Bacchantes, the priestess of Bacchus, god of wine. In answer to his father’s prayers, Orchis was changed into a flower that now bears his name, the orchid. Since the Middle Ages, orchids are popular for their supposed aphrodisiac properties. Special concoctions of the tuberous roots and fleshy leaves of some species were considered as sexual stimulants and even as helping to produce male babies. That is how they became a synonym of fertility and vitality.
– “Orchid, Sex and Magic,” informational placard in the Jardim Botanico in Rio de Janeiro