Posts Tagged ‘orchid’

Orchid

November 18, 2010

Orchids have fascinated people around the world for a very long time. Records have been found from as far back as the 3rd Century B.C. that mention Orchids. Today, there are millions of people devoted to Orchids in all their variety. Even though they are known for being high maintenance, and picky about their growing conditions, many people are drawn to their beautiful flowers.

The family Orchidaceae is the 2nd largest family of flowering plants (after Asteraceae). It includes as many as 26,000 species in 880 genera. Orchids account for around 10% of all seed plants and they can be found in almost every habitat from deserts to the Arctic Circle. Of all those genera, only about 25 are found in North America. The enormous number of Orchids continues to grow. Since the 19th century, horticulturists have developed over 100,000 hybrids and cultivars.

I have to say, I learned a lot of new terms while I was researching Orchids. They have 5 traits that make them different from other plants:
1. They are bilaterally symmetrical, or zygomorphic. This means that they can be divided in only one way to produce mirror images.(this is external only)
2. One petal is not like the others. Orchids generally have 3 petals and 3 sepals. The middle petal is called the labellum, or lip, and it is much different than the other petals.
3. The female and male reproductive parts are fused into a single column.
4. Orchids may resupinate. This has to do with the labellum. It starts out at the top of a developing flower bud, but as it grows, the stem twists until the labellum is pointing down when the flower opens.
5. The seeds are extremely tiny.

Orchids can grow in two different ways:
1. Monopodial – A single stem grows from the center of the plant. Each year, it gets longer as leaves are added to the new growth
2. Sympodial- As you might have guessed, these have more than one stem. Shoots grow out, bloom and then more shoots grow from their base. This type grows laterally, not vertically.

Growing everywhere from mountains to swamps, from deserts to tropical forests, Orchids have adapted to conditions all over the world. Their colors and shapes are highly varied also, as is their fragrance. Scents range from pleasing to rancid, a means to attract the insects which pollinate the plant.

Here’s one last list for you. Orchids can be divided into 3 groups based on where they grow:
1. Terrestrial – plants are rooted in soil.
2. Ephiphyte – plants grow on other plants, usually branches, high in the air. They collect nutrients from the air, the rain and decaying vegetation.
3. Lithophytic – plants that grow on rocky or stony ground. These types survive mostly by gathering nutrients from decaying moss.