Orchids facts, information, pictures
orchid, well-known name for members of the Orchidaceae, a group of perpetual herbs widely spread over both hemispheres. The generally large group (of some 450 genera and an estimated 10,000 to 17,500 species) includes terrestrial, epiphytic, and saprophytic (surviving on decaying material) genera. Though the latter may occasionally lack chlorophyll, none is parasitic. Orchids grow most plentifully in tropical and subtropical forests, where they are mainly epiphytic; the moderate genera do well in all sorts of shaded natural homes except excessively dry or cold habitats. Most moderate orchids and all those of Arctic are terrestrial.
A Highly different Plant Family
This group of monocotyledonous plants has gradually changed from prototypes of the lily and amaryllis family and is important for the wide variety of its highly developed and curiously modified forms. Epiphytic types is of a stem swollen at the base to be a pseudobulb (for food storage) and pendulous aerial roots adapted for taking in water and sometimes, chlorophyll to make photosynthesis possible are inside it. In terrestrial kinds a symbiotic relationship frequently happens between the roots and filamentous fungi (mycorrhiza). Horticulturists have discovered that the presence of certain fungi is vital for the sprout of the extremely small seeds. Orchid pollen happens as mealy or waxen small pieces of tiny pollen grains, highly different in form.
The flowers are formed from 3 petals and 3 petal-like sepals, the central sepal adapted into an obvious lip (labellum) specialized to produce nectar that attracts insects. Most of the diverse forms of orchid flowers are apparently complex adaptations for pollination by particular insects, e.g., the huge wax-flower of Africa, which has a labellum over a foot long and is pollinated by a moth with a tongue of the same length. The sac-like labellum of the lady’s-slipper does the same function by making the insect to touch lightly against the anther and the stigma (male and female organs) while obtaining nectar.
The expensive orchid of the florists’ trade is generally the large cattleya; species of this genus (Cattleya) are epiphytic plants native to tropical America. Among the other grown orchids are many of the terrestrial rein orchids (genus Habenaria) and many epiphytic tropical genera, e.g., the Asian Dendrobium, with pendant groups of flowers; Epidendrum, represented by the greenfly orchid in the SE United States and Odontoglossum, native to the Andes Mts.
Around 140 species of orchid are indigenous to North America, generally as bog plants or flowers of damp woodlands and meadows. Species of lady’s-slipper, or moccasin flower (Cypripedium) [Lat.,=slipper of Venus], include the pink-blossomed common, or stemless, lady’s-slipper (C. acaule) and the colorful lady’s-slipper (C. reginae), both of the Northeast, and differences of the yellow lady’s-slipper (C. calceolus), which grow in all except the warmest areas of the continent. Other terrestrial genera which grow as American wild flowers are the fringe orchids (Blephariglottis); the small-blossomed twayblades (species of Liparis and Listera); the pogonias, or beard-flowers (Pogonia); the wild pinks, or swamp rose orchids (Arethusa), of northeastern sphagnum area of wet muddy grounds; the grass pinks (Limodorum) of eastern area of wet muddy grounds and meadows; and the ladies’-tresses, or pearl-twists (Spiranthes), with a distinctive spiral arrangement of yellowish or white flowers. The coral-roots (Corallorhiza), called for the coral-like branching of their underground thick stems, are a non-green saprophytic genus that includes some North American species. Because orchids are typically slow growing and difficult to produce seed, much more than necessary picking and pointless attempts to transplant have reduced the amount of native species in some areas.
Orchids are among the most highly precious of decorative plants. In Mexico, the flowers are applied symbolically by the natives; each one communicates a feeling related to different ceremonies or religious figures. From the time that orchids were first brought from the Bahamas into Britain. (in the early 18th cent.) These flowers have been grown for their commercial value and have been successfully crossbreed and variegated. A large number of orchids are now reproduced by tissue culture methods. Hawaii has started to develop into a major center for commercial orchid culture. A species of the Vanilla genus of tropical America is crucial economically as the source of natural vanilla flavoring.
The orchid family is decided belongs to the division Magnoliophyta, class Liliopsida, order Orchidales.