Articles About Orchids
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
Join the Orchid Agora Forum !
The Orchid Agora Forum
Check out my Zazzle Store !
Visit my Zazzle shop!
My ArtWanted Gallery
Articles About Orchids
  The orchid family (Orchidaceae) contains more species than any other family of flowering plants except for the Daisies (Asteraceae). There are over 1.500 genera in the orchid family with over 30.000 species and still growing. Orchids are not like any other flowers, you can not look at them and immediately tell what they are, like a rose, tulip or even daisies. The strange looking flowers are sometimes hard to distinguish as an orchid.
   As a rule orchids have three things in common, 3 petals, 3 sepals, and a column where the reproductive organs of the 3 stamen and 3 pistils are fused together. No other flowers have this structure. Sounds easy doesn't it? But of course there are orchids that make even that rule difficult to follow like the Paphiopedilum species which combine two petals into a pouch, so it looks like one petal.
   It is no wonder you can find some of the strangest plants in the plant kingdom in this family. Let's explore the fascinating family of the Orchidaceae and see what strange plants we can find.
   Western Australia has some of the strangest orchids in the world. Epiblema grandiflorum ssp. cyanea, also known as the "Blue-Babe-in-a-cradle" spends most of it's life submerged underwater.
   Drakaea elastica one of the "Warty Hammer Orchids" grows under Kunzea ericifloia bushes. One of the most bizarre-looking orchid in this genus is Drakaea glyptodon. The labellum is large and it is very hard to tell it is an orchid. It is the color of raw meat and the fragrance it produces smells like raw meat. All species in this genus have 4 pollinia and are pollinated by male wasps.
   Diuris purdei nicknamed "Purdie's Donkey Orchid" or "Double Tails" as it is called in Australia, both flower only after summer bush fires.
Now this one would be fun to grow! How would any one know if you really had an orchid in that pot or not?

   It is Rhizanthella gardneri, one of the most fascinating species of orchids and the only species in this genus.

   It is indeed one of the very extraordinary subterranean orchids. The entire plant grows underground. The inflorescence finds cracks in the dry surface and appears long enough for flies and other insects to pollinate it.
Rhizanthella gardneri
   There are other strange orchids in the world like the terrestrials Cybidiella humblotii, which only grows on the trunks of Raphia palms in the lowlands of E. Madagascar and Cybidiella rhodochila which only grows in Stag Horn Ferns. Dendrobium crumenatum, nicknamed "The Pigeon Orchid," found in India, Thailand, China, and Malaysia flowers 7 days after a shower of rain or a drop in temperature. You must be quick if you want to see the blooms, however, they open all at the same time and they last only one day.
   Do you believe in Ghosts? Dendrophylax (Polyrrhiza) species are known as the "Ghost orchids." They have been one of the most sought after orchids in the Florida Swamps. There are four species of this strange genus and they are native to the West Indies. These are the "leafless orchids." When you look for this orchid all you see is a tangled mess of grayish roots clinging on to a tree in the swamps. Instead of leaves performing the processes of photosynthesis it is the roots that accomplishes this process. Another nickname for Dendrophylax is the "Frog Orchid" because they have one very large white flower that looks like a frog.
   There are several non-chlorphylluous orchids in this fascinating family. The genus Limodorum has some very strange species that will grow over two feet tall and produce beautiful violet-purple flowers. They are found in central and southern Europe.
Corallorhiza species are native to North America and Mexico, some can be found in Northern Asia and Europe. The have very small underdeveloped leaves but with very showy flowers.
   Melaleuca uncinata is completely leafless so it requires a plant to grow on. The plant it chooses is the Broombrush. The Epipogium species found in Europe, Asia, Africa, Malaya and Australia. They have leafless stems and the flowers are produced on coral-like rhizomes.
   There are even orchids that beyond the Arctic Circle -- Cypripedium passerinum, Cypripedium guttatum and Coeloglossum viride. The world's southern most orchid Is Corybas macranthus. It grows on the Macquarie Island, which is located very close to Antarctica. One of the smallest flowering plants is Platystele stenostachya. They grow in Mexico, Bolivia, and Brazil. The blooms are less than 1 mm in size.
   The largest orchid is Grammatophyllum papuanum or Grammatophyllum speciosum. It seems no one can agree which of these two huge monsters is the largest. They can be several meters tall and weigh over a ton! The pseudobulbs can be 25 feet tall with flower spikes reaching heights over 6 feet tall! They are nicknamed the "Giant Orchid" or "Queen Orchid."
   I will leave you with this thought. How would you like an orchid that smells like, well lets say it puts out a "Very Objectionable" odour? If not then stay away from the Venezuela species Cattleya percivaliana, Because it does smell!