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Fragrant Bug Orchid.jpg
Scientific Classification
  • Aa
  • Abdominea
  • Acampe
  • Acanthephippium
  • Aceratorchis
  • Acianthus
  • Acineta
  • Acrorchis
  • Ada
  • Aerangis
  • Aeranthes
  • Aerides
  • Aganisia
  • Agrostophyllum
  • Amitostigma
  • Anacamptis
  • Ancistrochilus
  • Angraecum
  • Anguloa
  • Ansellia
  • Aorchis
  • Aplectrum
  • Arachnis
  • Arethusa
  • Armodorum
  • Ascocenda
  • Ascocentrum
  • Ascoglossum
  • Australorchis
  • Auxopus
  • Baptistonia
  • Barbrodia
  • Barkeria
  • Barlia
  • Bartholina
  • Beloglottis
  • Biermannia
  • Bletilla
  • Brassavola
  • Brassia
  • Bulbophyllum
  • Calypso
  • Catasetum
  • Cattleya
  • Cirrhopetalum
  • Cleisostoma
  • Clowesia
  • Coelogyne
  • Coryanthes
  • Cymbidium
  • Cyrtopodium
  • Cypripedium
  • Dactylorhiza
  • Dendrobium
  • Disa
  • Dracula
  • Encyclia
  • Epidendrum
  • Epipactis
  • Eria
  • Eulophia
  • Gongora
  • Goodyera
  • Grammatophyllum
  • Gymnadenia
  • Habenaria
  • Herschelia
  • Ida
  • Ionopsis
  • Laelia
  • Lepanthes
  • Liparis
  • Ludisia
  • Lycaste
  • Masdevallia
  • Maxillaria
  • Meliorchis
  • Mexipedium
  • Miltonia
  • Mormodes
  • Odontoglossum
  • Oeceoclades
  • Oncidium
  • Ophrys
  • Orchis
  • Paphiopedilum
  • Papilionanthe
  • Paraphalaenopsis
  • Peristeria
  • Phaius
  • Phalaenopsis
  • Pholidota
  • Phragmipedium
  • Platanthera
  • Pleione
  • Pleurothallis
  • Pomatocalpa
  • Promenaea
  • Pterostylis
  • Renanthera
  • Renantherella
  • Restrepia
  • Restrepiella
  • Rhynchostylis
  • Roezliella
  • Saccolabium
  • Sarcochilus
  • Satyrium
  • Selenipedium
  • Serapias
  • Sobralia
  • Sophronitis
  • Spiranthes
  • Stanhopea
  • Stelis
  • Thrixspermum
  • Tolumnia
  • Trias
  • Trichocentrum
  • Trichoglottis
  • Vanda
  • Vanilla
  • Yoania
  • Zeuxine
  • Zygopetalum[2]
Epipactis P..jpg
The Epipactis palustris stands out among the Family Orchidaceae

Orchids are any of the species of flowering plants belonging to the taxonomic family Orchidaceae. They comprise the largest and most diverse family in the Kingdom Plantae. Orchidaceae contains more species than vertebrates, and new orchid species are being discovered and added to the list year after year. There is no other group of plants so widespread and fascinating like orchids that draws attention from professional botanists and horticulturists all around the world.[3] Of course this only makes sense, seeing as Orchidaceae is such a widespread family of flowering plants with colorful and often fragrant blooms, and also encompasses about eleven percent of all seed plants. This family is not only beautiful, but extremely interesting in its diversity and usefulness. Though many orchids are used simply for their beauty and pleasant fragrance, like the Phalaenopsis and Cattleya, there are also plants in this family that we use in several food recipes. Vanilla Orchids are included in the Family Orchidaceae, the plant that we know as Vanilla.

Body Design

The Epipactis tremolsii has a body design similar to the typical expectation of orchids.

Orchid species greatly vary from one another in size, weight, and color. Some orchids may be only the size of a nickel in full bloom, while others can weigh up to one ton with thirty inch long petals and twelve to fourteen feet long sprays of flowers. Though greatly varied in other factors, the floral arrangement of all orchid species is generally the same. Each orchid's flower has six parts: the three outer green sepals and the three inner petals. Orchid blossoms can appear in any color perceivable by the human eye, except for true obsidian black. Other than the structure of the flower itself, orchids lack a true water-retentive root system. So the orchid works with mycorrhizae fungi during part of the life cycle, this fungi grows on the inside of the orchid's roots for some part of its life. Many orchids have a simple looking flower that most would recognize to be an orchid, while others do not even look like a flower. [4] Though orchids are extremely diverse throughout the world, they are quite easily distinguishable from any other plant species. Orchids display bilateral symmetry, several resupinate flowers, a highly modified petal, fused stamens and carpels, and very small seeds. All are different, but all share these simple characteristics.[5]

Life Cycle

Orchids have a very uniform life cycle, which is similar to that of most plants, with an added number of adjustments and twists. For example, some orchids have developed a strategy of pollination in which the flower produces the pheromones of female wasps to attract male wasps to pollinate. Some orchids also self-pollinate to reproduce.

The orchid life cycle is similar to that of ordinary flowers: seed production, germination, maturation of seedlings, flowering, and reproduction. First the orchid goes through the process of pollination, which begins the means for a chemical reaction that will truly begin the orchid life cycle. The visible sign of orchid reproduction is wilting, when the sepals and petals begin to shrivel and die, just like any other [6]conventional plant. But orchids are very different, with the period of pollination varying among each flower, orchids can take anywhere from nine to fourteen months to complete one full life cycle. With all orchids though, prolific seed formation is common, the seed maturation time varies though- Cymbidium and Cattleya orchid seeds take twelve months to mature. Most orchids are epiphytic, meaning that the seeds produced are small, delicate, light seeds easily airborne to travel to an environmentally stable area for growth. Other orchids are terrestrial and disperse an extremely large amount of seeds to increase chances of survival. Orchids also differ greatly from conventional flowers because they lack an endosperm, so they require the mycorriza fungus to complete the reproduction cycle.[7]


Some orchid species depend entirely on pollinators to spread pollen.

Orchids depend entirely on mycorrhizal fungus for their nutrients and carbon throughout the span of its life. The availability of this particular fungus effects the germination of many orchid species. The affects of climate and biotic factors also play a great role in the survival and distribution of orchid species, particularly the Corallorhiza odontorhiza orchid. Environmental variation displays effects on the flowering and dormancy in mycoheterotrophic orchid species. No matter the environment or the species of orchid, each relies upon the other. Several bug species rely on the pollination of orchids in their own natural environments, as do the orchids rely on the pollinators.[8] No matter the environment of the orchid species, all rely upon certain factors, but all can survive much harsher conditions than expected.[9]

All orchids adapt to certain minute changes to the environment, also known as micro climatic conditions, but can also develop a number of adaptive features to survive tough environments. Several orchid species are xerophytic, meaning they grow on tree branches, and require a certain amount of water, whether from the tree or from the humidity of the environment. All orchids are adaptive to the point that they can grow in soil, on rocks, or on tree branches. Though all vary in adaptive qualities and features, all orchids require mycorrhizal fungi to survive.[10]

Raising Orchids

Orchids are known widely for their beauty, making them a desirable specimen to grow in any greenhouse and many homes. Though many people think because of the exquisite beauty that they are difficult to raise and require much experience, anyone can grow an orchid with or without a greenhouse, if they take care to follow the steps in growing an orchid. One who wishes to grow an orchid must consider the climatic and environmental changes that occur in the orchids' natural environment. Light exposure, available water, temperature, air movement, humidity, soil, and placement all play a part in keeping any orchid alive and healthy.[11]

Orchids require a certain amount of bright light. In the winter, orchids must be placed near a window facing south or east; in the summer, they should be moved into shade outside. Orchids must be watered sparingly, over watering is the main reason orchids die. Orchids only require watering about once a week, and the water must drain out the bottom of the pot, instead of allowing the orchid to sit in an overflow. Different orchid species require different temperatures, but most require about the same temperature as we do, roughly eighty degrees Fahrenheit; though some can survive and thrive in as low as fifty-five degrees Fahrenheit. All orchids require air circulation, because most orchids grow on trees in their natural habitat they need to feel air movement around them. Orchids require raised humidity around them, so to grow them in a home usually requires a humidifier. Lastly, orchids require a certain mixture of soil (usually sold in stores especially for orchids) and food availability. So if these requirements are filled correctly, anyone can grow one of these beautiful plants in their own home.[12]


Basic Orchid Care



  1. Author unknown. Orchid ipomopsis USDA. Web. Date of access 12 May 2014.
  2. Author unknown. Orchidacea Wikipedia. Web. Date of access 12 May 2014.
  3. William, Norris H. INTRODUCTION TO ASSEMBLING THE TREE OF LIFE: ORCHIDACEAE Florida Museum of Natural History. Web. Date Recently Updated 1 May 2013.
  4. Jukofsky, Diane. Rainforest Alliance Rainforest Alliance. Web. Date of access 12 May 2014.
  5. Unknown Author. Orchidaceae Wikipedia. Web. Date of Last Update 17 May 2014.
  6. Unknown Author. Orchid Life Cycle Landscape-and-Garden. Web. Date of access 12 May 2014.
  7. Unknown Author. Orchid Life Cycle Landscape-and-Garden. Web. Date of access 12 May 2014.
  8. McCormick, Melissa. Plant Ecology Lab Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. Web. Date of Access 24 May 2014.
  9. Dharmani Dubey, Anu. Orchids Site BellaOnline. Web. Date of Access 24 May 2014.
  10. Dharmani Dubey, Anu. Orchids Site BellaOnline. Web. Date of Access 24 May 2014.
  11. Sweeny, Sharon. How to Raise Orchids Web. Date of access 25 May 2014.
  12. Sweeny, Sharon. How to Raise Orchids Web. Date of access 25 May 2014.