The Info List - Orchidaceae

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The ORCHIDACEAE are a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants , with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant, commonly known as the ORCHID FAMILY.

Along with the Asteraceae , they are one of the two largest families of flowering plants. The Orchidaceae have about 28,000 currently accepted species , distributed in about 763 genera . The determination of which family is larger is still under debate, because verified data on the members of such enormous families are continually in flux. Regardless, the number of orchid species nearly equals the number of bony fishes and is more than twice the number of bird species, and about four times the number of mammal species. The family also encompasses about 6–11% of all seed plants . The largest genera are _ Bulbophyllum _ (2,000 species), _ Epidendrum _ (1,500 species), _ Dendrobium _ (1,400 species) and _ Pleurothallis _ (1,000 species).

The family also includes _ Vanilla _ (the genus of the vanilla plant ), _ Orchis _ (type genus), and many commonly cultivated plants such as _ Phalaenopsis _ and _ Cattleya _. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars .


* 1 Description

* 1.1 Stem and roots * 1.2 Leaves * 1.3 Flowers * 1.4 Pollination * 1.5 Asexual reproduction * 1.6 Fruits and seeds

* 2 Taxonomy

* 2.1 Evolution * 2.2 Genera * 2.3 Etymology

* 3 Distribution * 4 Ecology

* 5 Uses

* 5.1 Perfumery * 5.2 Horticulture * 5.3 Use as food * 5.4 Traditional medicinal uses

* 6 Cultural symbolism * 7 See also * 8 Notes * 9 References * 10 External links


High resolution image of orchid

Orchids are easily distinguished from other plants, as they share some very evident, shared derived characteristics, or "apomorphies ". Among these are: bilateral symmetry of the flower (zygomorphism ), many resupinate flowers, a nearly always highly modified petal (labellum), fused stamens and carpels , and extremely small seeds .


_ Germinating seeds of the temperate orchid Anacamptis coriophora_. The protocorm is the first organ that will develop into true roots and leaves.

All orchids are perennial herbs that lack any permanent woody structure. They can grow according to two patterns:

* MONOPODIAL : The stem grows from a single bud, leaves are added from the apex each year and the stem grows longer accordingly. The stem of orchids with a monopodial growth can reach several metres in length, as in _ Vanda _ and _ Vanilla _. * SYMPODIAL : Sympodial orchids have a front (the newest growth) and a back (the oldest growth). The plant produces a series of adjacent shoots which grow to a certain size, bloom and then stop growing and are replaced. Sympodial orchids grow laterally rather than vertically, following the surface of their support. The growth continues by development of new leads, with their own leaves and roots, sprouting from or next to those of the previous year, as in _ Cattleya _. While a new lead is developing, the rhizome may start its growth again from a so-called 'eye', an undeveloped bud, thereby branching. Sympodial orchids may have visible pseudobulbs joined by a _rhizome _, which creeps along the top or just beneath the soil.

_ Anacamptis lactea _ showing the two tubers

Terrestrial orchids may be rhizomatous or form corms or tubers . The root caps of terrestrial orchids are smooth and white.

Some sympodial terrestrial orchids, such as _ Orchis _ and _ Ophrys _, have two subterranean tuberous roots . One is used as a food reserve for wintry periods, and provides for the development of the other one, from which visible growth develops.

In warm and constantly humid climates, many terrestrial orchids do not need pseudobulbs.

Epiphytic orchids, those that grow upon a support, have modified aerial roots that can sometimes be a few meters long. In the older parts of the roots, a modified spongy epidermis , called velamen , has the function to absorb humidity. It is made of dead cells and can have a silvery-grey, white or brown appearance. In some orchids, the velamen includes spongy and fibrous bodies near the passage cells, called tilosomes.

The cells of the root epidermis grow at a right angle to the axis of the root to allow them to get a firm grasp on their support. Nutrients for epiphytic orchids mainly come from mineral dust, organic detritus, animal droppings and other substances collecting among on their supporting surfaces. _ The pseudobulb of Prosthechea fragrans_

The base of the stem of sympodial epiphytes, or in some species essentially the entire stem, may be thickened to form a pseudobulb that contains nutrients and water for drier periods.

The pseudobulb has a smooth surface with lengthwise grooves, and can have different shapes, often conical or oblong. Its size is very variable; in some small species of _ Bulbophyllum _, it is no longer than two millimeters, while in the largest orchid in the world, _ Grammatophyllum speciosum _ (giant orchid), it can reach three meters. Some _ Dendrobium _ species have long, canelike pseudobulbs with short, rounded leaves over the whole length; some other orchids have hidden or extremely small pseudobulbs, completely included inside the leaves.

With ageing, the pseudobulb sheds its leaves and becomes dormant. At this stage, it is often called a backbulb. Backbulbs still hold nutrition for the plant, but then a pseudobulb usually takes over, exploiting the last reserves accumulated in the backbulb, which eventually dies off, too. A pseudobulb typically lives for about five years. Orchids without noticeable pseudobulbs are also said to have growths, an individual component of a sympodial plant.


Like most monocots , orchids generally have simple leaves with parallel veins , although some Vanilloideae have reticulate venation . Leaves may be ovate, lanceolate, or orbiculate, and very variable in size on the individual plant. Their characteristics are often diagnostic. They are normally alternate on the stem, often folded lengthwise along the centre ("plicate"), and have no stipules . Orchid leaves often have siliceous bodies called stegmata in the vascular bundle sheaths (not present in the Orchidoideae ) and are fibrous.

The structure of the leaves corresponds to the specific habitat of the plant. Species that typically bask in sunlight, or grow on sites which can be occasionally very dry, have thick, leathery leaves and the laminae are covered by a waxy cuticle to retain their necessary water supply. Shade-loving species, on the other hand, have long, thin leaves.

The leaves of most orchids are perennial, that is, they live for several years, while others, especially those with plicate leaves as in _ Catasetum _, shed them annually and develop new leaves together with new pseudobulbs.

The leaves of some orchids are considered ornamental. The leaves of the _ Macodes sanderiana_, a semiterrestrial or rock-hugging ("lithophyte ") orchid, show a sparkling silver and gold veining on a light green background. The cordate leaves of _Psychopsis limminghei_ are light brownish-green with maroon-puce markings, created by flower pigments. The attractive mottle of the leaves of lady\'s slippers from tropical and subtropical Asia (_ Paphiopedilum _), is caused by uneven distribution of chlorophyll. Also, _ Phalaenopsis schilleriana_ is a pastel pink orchid with leaves spotted dark green and light green. The jewel orchid (_ Ludisia discolor_) is grown more for its colorful leaves than its white flowers.

Some orchids, as _ Dendrophylax lindenii _ (ghost orchid), _ Aphyllorchis _ and _ Taeniophyllum _ depend on their green roots for photosynthesis and lack normally developed leaves, as do all of the heterotrophic species.

Orchids of the genus _ Corallorhiza _ (coralroot orchids) lack leaves altogether and instead wrap their roots around the roots of mature trees and use specialized fungi to harvest sugars. _ Vanda _ cultivar


The Orchidaceae are well known for the many structural variations in their flowers .

Some orchids have single flowers, but most have a racemose inflorescence , sometimes with a large number of flowers. The flowering stem can be basal, that is, produced from the base of the tuber , like in _ Cymbidium _, apical, meaning it grows from the apex of the main stem, like in _ Cattleya _, or axillary, from the leaf axil, as in _ Vanda _`.

As an apomorphy of the clade , orchid flowers are primitively zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical ), although in some genera like _ Mormodes _, _ Ludisia _, and _ Macodes _, this kind of symmetry may be difficult to notice. _ Dactylorhiza sambucina_, Orchidoideae for reference

The orchid flower, like most flowers of monocots, has two whorls of sterile elements. The outer whorl has three sepals and the inner whorl has three petals . The sepals are usually very similar to the petals (thus called tepals , 1), but may be completely distinct.

The medial petal, called the labellum or lip (6), which is always modified and enlarged, is actually the upper medial petal; however, as the flower develops, the inferior ovary (7) or the pedicel usually rotates 180°, so that the labellum arrives at the lower part of the flower, thus becoming suitable to form a platform for pollinators. This characteristic, called resupination , occurs primitively in the family and is considered apomorphic , a derived characteristic all Orchidaceae share. The torsion of the ovary is very evident from the longitudinal section shown (_below right_). Some orchids have secondarily lost this resupination, e.g. _ Epidendrum secundum _. _ Longitudinal section of a flower of Vanilla planifolia _

The normal form of the sepals can be found in _Cattleya_, where they form a triangle. In _ Paphiopedilum _ (Venus slippers), the lower two sepals are fused into a synsepal , while the lip has taken the form of a slipper. In _ Masdevallia _, all the sepals are fused.

Orchid flowers with abnormal numbers of petals or lips are called peloric. Peloria is a genetic trait, but its expression is environmentally influenced and may appear random. _ Laeliocattleya _ cultivar shows the normal form of petals.

Orchid flowers primitively had three stamens, but this situation is now limited to the genus _ Neuwiedia _. _Apostasia _ and the Cypripedioideae have two stamens, the central one being sterile and reduced to a staminode . All of the other orchids, the clade called _Monandria_, retain only the central stamen, the others being reduced to staminodes (4). The filaments of the stamens are always adnate (fused) to the style to form cylindrical structure called the gynostemium or column (2). In the primitive Apostasioideae , this fusion is only partial; in the Vanilloideae , it is more deep; in Orchidoideae and Epidendroideae , it is total. The stigma (9) is very asymmetrical, as all of its lobes are bent towards the centre of the flower and lie on the bottom of the column.

Pollen is released as single grains, like in most other plants, in the Apostasioideae, Cypripedioideae, and Vanilloideae. In the other subfamilies, which comprise the great majority of orchids, the anther (3) carries two pollinia .

A pollinium is a waxy mass of pollen grains held together by the glue-like alkaloid viscin , containing both cellulosic strands and mucopolysaccharides. Each pollinium is connected to a filament which can take the form of a caudicle , as in _ Dactylorhiza _ or _Habenaria _, or a _stipe _, as in _Vanda_. Caudicles or stipes hold the pollinia to the viscidium, a sticky pad which sticks the pollinia to the body of pollinators .

At the upper edge of the stigma of single-anthered orchids, in front of the anther cap, is the rostellum (5), a slender extension involved in the complex pollination mechanism.

As mentioned, the ovary is always inferior (located behind the flower). It is three-carpelate and one or, more rarely, three-partitioned, with parietal placentation (axile in the Apostasioideae).

In 2011, _ Bulbophyllum nocturnum _ was discovered to flower nocturnally.


The complex mechanisms which orchids have evolved to achieve cross-pollination were investigated by Charles Darwin and described in _ Fertilisation of Orchids _ (1862). Orchids have developed highly specialized pollination systems, thus the chances of being pollinated are often scarce, so orchid flowers usually remain receptive for very long periods, rendering unpollinated flowers long-lasting in cultivation. Most orchids deliver pollen in a single mass. Each time pollination succeeds, thousands of ovules can be fertilized.

Pollinators are often visually attracted by the shape and colours of the labellum. However, some _ Bulbophyllum _ species attract male fruit flies (_ Bactrocera _ spp.) solely via a floral chemical which simultaneously acts as a floral reward (e.g. methyl eugenol , raspberry ketone , or zingerone ) to perform pollination. The flowers may produce attractive odours. Although absent in most species, nectar may be produced in a spur of the labellum (8 in the illustration above), or on the point of the sepals, or in the septa of the ovary, the most typical position amongst the Asparagales .

In orchids that produce pollinia, pollination happens as some variant of the following sequence: when the pollinator enters into the flower, it touches a viscidium, which promptly sticks to its body, generally on the head or abdomen. While leaving the flower, it pulls the pollinium out of the anther, as it is connected to the viscidium by the caudicle or stipe. The caudicle then bends and the pollinium is moved forwards and downwards. When the pollinator enters another flower of the same species, the pollinium has taken such position that it will stick to the stigma of the second flower, just below the rostellum, pollinating it. The possessors of orchids may be able to reproduce the process with a pencil, small paintbrush, or other similar device. _ Ophrys apifera _ is about to self-pollinate

Some orchids mainly or totally rely on self-pollination , especially in colder regions where pollinators are particularly rare. The caudicles may dry up if the flower has not been visited by any pollinator, and the pollinia then fall directly on the stigma. Otherwise, the anther may rotate and then enter the stigma cavity of the flower (as in _ Holcoglossum amesianum _).

The slipper orchid _ Paphiopedilum parishii _ reproduces by self-fertilization. This occurs when the anther changes from a solid to a liquid state and directly contacts the stigma surface without the aid of any pollinating agent or floral assembly.

The labellum of the Cypripedioideae is poke bonnet-shaped , and has the function of trapping visiting insects. The only exit leads to the anthers that deposit pollen on the visitor.

In some extremely specialized orchids, such as the Eurasian genus _ Ophrys _, the labellum is adapted to have a colour, shape, and odour which attracts male insects via mimicry of a receptive female. Pollination happens as the insect attempts to mate with flowers.

Many neotropical orchids are pollinated by male orchid bees , which visit the flowers to gather volatile chemicals they require to synthesize pheromonal attractants. Males of such species as _Euglossa imperialis _ or _ Eulaema meriana _ have been observed to leave their territories periodically to forage for aromatic compounds, such as cineole, to synthesize pheromone for attracting and mating with females. Each type of orchid places the pollinia on a different body part of a different species of bee, so as to enforce proper cross-pollination.

A rare achlorophyllous saprophytic orchid growing entirely underground in Australia, _ Rhizanthella slateri _, is never exposed to light, and depends on ants and other terrestrial insects to pollinate it.

_ Catasetum _, a genus discussed briefly by Darwin , actually launches its viscid pollinia with explosive force when an insect touches a seta , knocking the pollinator off the flower.

After pollination, the sepals and petals fade and wilt, but they usually remain attached to the ovary.


Some species, such as _Phalaenopsis_, _Dendrobium_, and _Vanda_, produce offshoots or plantlets formed from one of the nodes along the stem , through the accumulation of growth hormones at that point. These shoots are known as _keiki _.


Cross-sections of orchid capsules showing the longitudinal slits

The ovary typically develops into a capsule that is dehiscent by three or six longitudinal slits, while remaining closed at both ends.

The seeds are generally almost microscopic and very numerous, in some species over a million per capsule. After ripening, they blow off like dust particles or spores. They lack endosperm and must enter symbiotic relationships with various mycorrhizal basidiomyceteous fungi that provide them the necessary nutrients to germinate, so all orchid species are mycoheterotrophic during germination and reliant upon fungi to complete their lifecycles. _ Closeup of a Phalaenopsis_ blossom

As the chance for a seed to meet a suitable fungus is very small, only a minute fraction of all the seeds released grow into adult plants. In cultivation, germination typically takes weeks.

Horticultural techniques have been devised for germinating orchid seeds on an artificial nutrient medium, eliminating the requirement of the fungus for germination and greatly aiding the propagation of ornamental orchids. The usual medium for the sowing of orchids in artificial conditions is agar agar gel combined with a carbohydrate energy source. The carbohydrate source can be combinations of discrete sugars or can be derived from other sources such as banana , pineapple , peach , or even tomato puree or coconut water . After the preparation of the agar agar medium, it is poured into test tubes or jars which are then autoclaved (or cooked in a pressure cooker) to sterilize the medium. After cooking, the medium begins to gel as it cools.


Main article: Taxonomy of the Orchid family

The taxonomy of this family is in constant flux, as new studies continue to clarify the relationships between species and groups of species, allowing more taxa at several ranks to be recognized. The Orchidaceae is currently placed in the order Asparagales by the APG III system of 2009.

Five subfamilies are recognised. The cladogram below was made according to the APG system of 1998. It represents the view that most botanists had held up to that time. It was supported by morphological studies , but never received strong support in molecular phylogenetic studies.

APOSTASIOIDEAE : 2 genera and 16 species, south-western Asia

CYPRIPEDIOIDEAE : 5 genera and 130 species, from the temperate regions of the world, as well as tropical America and tropical Asia


VANILLOIDEAE : 15 genera and 180 species, humid tropical and subtropical regions, eastern North America

EPIDENDROIDEAE : more than 500 genera and more or less 20,000 species, cosmopolitan

ORCHIDOIDEAE : 208 genera and 3,630 species, cosmopolitan

In 2015, a phylogenetic study showed strong statistical support for the following topology of the orchid tree , using 9 kb of plastid and nuclear DNA from 7 genes , a topology that was confirmed by a phylogenomic study in the same year.







A study in the scientific journal _Nature _ has hypothesised that the origin of orchids goes back much longer than originally expected. An extinct species of stingless bee, _Proplebeia dominicana_, was found trapped in Miocene amber from about 15-20 million years ago. The bee was carrying pollen of a previously unknown orchid taxon, _Meliorchis caribea _, on its wings. This find is the first evidence of fossilised orchids to date and shows insects were active pollinators of orchids then. This extinct orchid, _M. caribea_, has been placed within the extant tribe Cranichideae , subtribe Goodyerinae (subfamily Orchidoideae ). An even older orchid species, _Succinanthera baltica_, was described from the Eocene Baltic amber by Poinar ">

* _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 _ * _ Barkeria _ * _ Barlia _ * _ Bartholina _ * _ Beloglottis _ * _ Biermannia _ * _ Bletilla _ * _ Brassavola _ * _ Brassia _ * _ Bulbophyllum _ * _ Calanthe _ * _Calypso _ * _ Catasetum _ * _ Cattleya _ * _ Cirrhopetalum _ * _ Cleisostoma _ * _ Clowesia _ * _ Coelogyne _ * _ Coryanthes _ * _ Cycnoches _ * _ Cymbidium _ * _ Cyrtopodium _ * _ Cypripedium _ * _ Dactylorhiza _ * _ Dendrobium _ * _Disa _ * _Dracula _ * _ Encyclia _ * _ Epidendrum _ * _ Epipactis _ * _ Eria _ * _ Eulophia _ * _ Gongora _ * _ Goodyera _ * _ Grammatophyllum _ * _ Gymnadenia _ * _ Habenaria _ * _ Herschelia _ * _ 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 _


The type genus (i.e. the genus after which the family is named) is _ Orchis _. The genus name comes from the Ancient Greek ὄρχις (_órkhis_), literally meaning "testicle ", because of the shape of the twin tubers in some species of _Orchis_. The term "orchid" was introduced in 1845 by John Lindley in _School Botany_, as a shortened form of _Orchidaceae_.


Orchidaceae are cosmopolitan , occurring in almost every habitat apart from glaciers . The world's richest diversity of orchid genera and species is found in the tropics , but they are also found above the Arctic Circle , in southern Patagonia , and two species of _ Nematoceras _ on Macquarie Island at 54° south .

The following list gives a rough overview of their distribution:

* Oceania: 50 to 70 genera * North America: 20 to 26 genera * tropical America: 212 to 250 genera * tropical Asia: 260 to 300 genera * tropical Africa: 230 to 270 genera * Europe and temperate Asia: 40 to 60 genera


A majority of orchids are perennial epiphytes , which grow anchored to trees or shrubs in the tropics and subtropics. Species such as _ Angraecum sororium_ are lithophytes , growing on rocks or very rocky soil. Other orchids (including the majority of temperate Orchidaceae) are terrestrial and can be found in habitat areas such as grasslands or forest.

Some orchids, such as _ Neottia _ and _ Corallorhiza _, lack chlorophyll , so are unable to photosynthesise. Instead, these species obtain energy and nutrients by parasitising soil fungi through the formation of orchid mycorrhizas . The fungi involved include those that form ectomycorrhizas with trees and other woody plants, parasites such as _ Armillaria _, and saprotrophs . These orchids are known as myco-heterotrophs , but were formerly (incorrectly) described as saprophytes as it was believed they gained their nutrition by breaking down organic matter. While only a few species are achlorophyllous holoparasites , all orchids are myco-heterotrophic during germination and seedling growth, and even photosynthetic adult plants may continue to obtain carbon from their mycorrhizal fungi.


_ As decoration in a flowerpot A flower of a Blc. Paradise Jewel 'Flame' hybrid orchid plant. Blooms of the Cattleya _ alliance are often used in ladies' corsages .


The scent of orchids is frequently analysed by perfumers (using headspace technology and gas-liquid chromatography /mass spectrometry ) to identify potential fragrance chemicals.


The other important use of orchids is their cultivation for the enjoyment of the flowers. Most cultivated orchids are tropical or subtropical , but quite a few which grow in colder climates can be found on the market. Temperate species available at nurseries include _ Ophrys apifera _ (bee orchid), _ Gymnadenia conopsea _ (fragrant orchid), _ Anacamptis pyramidalis _ (pyramidal orchid) and _ Dactylorhiza fuchsii _ (common spotted orchid).

Orchids of all types have also often been sought by collectors of both species and hybrids. Many hundreds of societies and clubs worldwide have been established. These can be small, local clubs, or larger, national organisations such as the American Orchid Society . Both serve to encourage cultivation and collection of orchids, but some go further by concentrating on conservation or research.

The term "botanical orchid" loosely denotes those small-flowered, tropical orchids belonging to several genera that do not fit into the "florist" orchid category. A few of these genera contain enormous numbers of species. Some, such as _ Pleurothallis _ and _Bulbophyllum _, contain approximately 1700 and 2000 species, respectively, and are often extremely vegetatively diverse. The primary use of the term is among orchid hobbyists wishing to describe unusual species they grow, though it is also used to distinguish naturally occurring orchid species from horticulturally created hybrids .


Further information: Vanilla Vanilla fruits drying

The dried seed pods of one orchid genus, _ Vanilla _ (especially _ Vanilla planifolia _), are commercially important as a flavouring in baking , for perfume manufacture and aromatherapy .

The underground tubers of terrestrial orchids are ground to a powder and used for cooking, such as in the hot beverage _salep _ or in the Turkish frozen treat _dondurma _. The name _salep_ has been claimed to come from the Arabic expression _ḥasyu al-tha`lab_, "fox testicles", but it appears more likely the name comes directly from the Arabic name _saḥlab_. The similarity in appearance to testes naturally accounts for _salep_ being considered an aphrodisiac.

The dried leaves of _Jumellea fragrans_ are used to flavour rum on Reunion Island .

Some saprophytic orchid species of the group _ Gastrodia _ produce potato-like tubers and were consumed as food by native peoples in Australia and can be successfully cultivated, notably _Gastrodia sesamoides _. Wild stands of these plants can still be found in the same areas as early aboriginal settlements, such as Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park in Australia . Aboriginal peoples located the plants in habitat by observing where bandicoots had scratched in search of the tubers after detecting the plants underground by scent.


Orchids have been used in traditional medicine in an effort to treat many diseases and ailments. They have been used as a source of herbal remedies in China since 2800 BC. _ Gastrodia elata _ is one of the three orchids listed in the earliest known Chinese Materia Medica (_Shennon bencaojing_) (c. 100 AD). Theophrastus mentions orchids in his _Enquiry into Plants_ (372–286 BC).


Orchids have many associations with symbolic values. For example, the orchid is the City Flower of Shaoxing , China. _ Cattleya mossiae _ is the national Venezuelan flower, while _ Cattleya trianae _ is the national flower of Colombia . _Vanda_ \'Miss Joaquim\' is the national flower of Singapore , _ Guarianthe skinneri _ is the national flower of Costa Rica and _ Rhyncholaelia digbyana _ is the national flower of Honduras . _ Prosthechea cochleata _ is the national flower of Belize , where it is known as the _black orchid_. _ Lycaste skinneri _ has a white variety (alba) which is the national flower of Guatemala , commonly known as _Monja Blanca_ (White Nun). Panama 's national flower is the _Holy Ghost orchid_ (_ Peristeria elata _), or 'the flor del Espiritu Santo'.

Orchids native to the Mediterranean are depicted on the _ Ara Pacis _ in Rome, until now the only known instance of orchids in ancient art, and the earliest in European art.

* Some cultivars


_Cattleya_ Mrs. Mahler 'Mem. Fred Tompkins' *

_Cattleya_ Queen Sirikhit 'Diamond Crown' *

_Cattleya_ Hawaiian Wedding Song 'Virgin' *

_Rhyncholaeliocattleya_ Chia Lin *

_Cattleya_ Hawaiian Variable 'Prasan' *

_Cattlianthe_ Barbara Belle *

_Cattleya_ Beaumesnil 'Parme' *

_Cattlianthe_ Chocolate Drop x _Cattleya_ Pão de Açúcar *

_ Cattleya mossiae '_Empress Frederick' *

'Hermine' *

_Cattleya_ Little Angel *

_Cattleya_ Marjorie Hausermann 'York' *

'Miva Breeze Alize' *

_Rhyncholaeliocattleya_ 'Nobile's carnival' *

_Cattleya_ Pernel George Barnett 'Yankee Clipper' *

_Cattlianthe_ Portia


* _ Adaptation (film) _, based on _ The Orchid Thief _ * Distribution of orchid species * Italian Group for Research on Wild Orchid * Lantingji Xu , introduction to the Orchid Pavilion Collection from Fourth Century China * Moyobamba , known as the "City of Orchids", which has some 3,500 species of orchid native to the area * Orchids of the Philippines * Orchids of Western Australia * Nero Wolfe , a fictional detective and orchidophile * Orchid Pavilion Gathering * Orchidelirium , the Victorian era of flower madness in which collecting and discovering orchids reached extraordinary levels * Shangsi Festival * Orchid Conservation Coalition


* ^ Early western district (Vic.) settler gives account of local Aboriginal people gathering potato orchid tubers, digging where bandicoots had scratched. * ^ The symbolic (or even religious) meaning of the _Ara Pacis_ orchids is not yet known.


* ^ _A_ _B_ Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (2009). "An update of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group classification for the orders and families of flowering plants: APG III" (PDF). _Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society_. 161 (2): 105–121. doi :10.1111/j.1095-8339.2009.00996.x . Retrieved 26 June 2013. * ^ Christenhusz, M. J. M. & Byng, J. W. (2016). "The number of known plants species in the world and its annual increase". _Phytotaxa_. Magnolia Press. 261 (3): 201–217. doi :10.11646/phytotaxa.261.3.1 . * ^ "WCSP". _World Checklist of Selected Plant Families_. Retrieved 2 April 2010. (See _External links_ below). * ^ Yohan Pillon & Mark W. Chase (2007). "Taxonomic exaggeration and its effects on orchid conservation". _Conservation Biology _. 21 (1): 263–265. PMID 17298532 . doi :10.1111/j.1523-1739.2006.00573.x . * ^ Nash, N., and Frownie, S. (2008). _Complete guide to orchids._ (Meredith Publishing Group) p. 12. * ^ Jenny King. "The coralroot orchid". _Orchids in Northern Washington State_. Silvercrown Mountain Outdoor School. Retrieved 10 June 2011. * ^ Tom Lawrie (23 November 2010). "World\'s first night-flo