Orchids

While you peruse the pictures of the Orchid Show at the  Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, you may enjoy listening to the beautiful Romance for Piano and Violin, op. 11 by Dvorak.

These pictures were taken on March 22, 2016 in St. Louis, Missouri using my Samsung Galaxy 5.

20160322_093552The orchid family is one of the largest families of flowering plants.

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All orchids have three petals and three sepals.

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The two uppermost petals are often distinctive and brightly colored.

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The lower petal is called the “labellum”. It is highly modified and used as a landing place for pollinators.

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In orchids, the male and female reproductive organs are fused together in a column.

20160322_093741Despite these shared features, orchids are very distinctive in their size,

20160322_093844 color,

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and even fragance!

20160322_093928Of all known plant species in the world, about one in twelve is an orchid.

20160322_094003There are about 25,000 species of orchids

20160322_094030and new ones are still being discovered.

20160322_094055Many species of orchids in the wild are threatened due to over collecting.

20160322_094106Scientists are assessing the conservation status of plant species throughout the world.

20160322_094206They are also working to recover endangered plants in their native habitats and prevent their extinction in the wild.

20160322_094226Since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, more than 100,000 hybrids of orchids have been produced.

20160322_094245Orchids are perennial herbs that lack any woody structure.

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Orchids have very specialized pollination systems, so the chances of being pollinated are often scarce.

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Some orchids have only one flower, while others have many.

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A study in the journal Nature has hypothesized that the origin of orchids goes back farther than originally thought.

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An extinct species of bee was found trapped in amber from 15-20 million years ago.

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This bee, called proplebeia dominicana, was carrying pollen of a previously unknown orchid on its wings. This find is the first evidence of fossilized orchids to date, and shows insects were active pollinators of orchids then.

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Orchids are “cosmopolitan”, occurring in nearly every habitat except glaciers.

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Tropical habitats contain the most diverse species of orchids.

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However, orchids can be found even north of the Arctic circle and in southern Patagonia!

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North America has 20-26 genera of orchids.

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Europe and temperate Asia have 40-60 genera.

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Compare these to the number of genera in tropical America: 212-250 genera and

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tropical Asia 260-300 genera! Tropical Africa has 230-270 genera.

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A majority of orchids are perennial epiphytes, which grow on trees or shrubs in the tropics and subtropics.

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Some species are lithophytes which grow on rocks or very rocky soil.

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Other orchids are terrestrial and are found in grassland or forest habitats.

20160322_094756Some species of orchids lack chlorophyll, so they are unable to photosynthesize.

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These species obtain energy and nutrients by parasitizing soil fungi.

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The scent of orchids is frequently analyzed by perfumers to identify potential fragrance chemicals.

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The other important use of orchids is cultivation for enjoyment of the flowers. Most cultivated orchids are tropical or subtropical.20160322_095033

Many orchid societies and clubs have been formed worldwide.

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These societies encourage cultivation and collection of orchids. Some go further by concentrating on research and conservation.

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The dried seed pods of one orchid genus, vanilla, is commercially important as a flavor in baking, as well as for perfume and aromatherapy.

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The underground tubers of terrestrial orchids are ground to a powder and used for cooking, such as in the hot beverage in Arab countries, salep, which is considered an aphrodisiac, and the Turkish frozen treat dondurma.

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On Reunion Island, the dried leaves of the Jumellea fragrans are used as a flavor for rum.

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In Australia, some orchids of the group Gastrodia produce potato-like tubers, which were consumed as food by native Australian peoples.

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Wild stands of these plants can still be found in the same areas of ancient aboriginal settlements.

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Orchids have been used in traditional medicine to treat many diseases and ailments.

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Orchids have been used in China as a source of herbal remedies since 2800 BCE.

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The orchid is the City Flower of Shaoxing, China.

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Two species of “Cattleya” are the national flowers of Venezuela and Colombia respectively.

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Singapore and Costa Rica also have species of orchids as their national flowers.

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The earliest instance of orchids in European art were Mediterranean orchids depicted on the “Ara Pacis” in Rome.

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Many orchids are difficult, if not impossible, to grow.

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However, hundreds of hybrids can grow in a sunny windowsill or under lights.

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Orchids prefer a 12-hour day all year round and require a high intensity of light.

20160322_095437Most orchids bloom once a year. Once it flowers it remains in bloom for six to ten weeks.

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Easy orchid varieties for beginning growers: Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilum,

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South and east-facing windows are the best place for orchids.

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Depending on the type of orchid, they can be happy growing in peat moss, fir bark, dried fern roots, sphagnum moss, rock wool, cork nuggets, stones, lava rock, and coconut fiber.

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Information used in this post was obtained from a sign about orchids at the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Wikipedia article Orchidaceae  and Gardener’s Supply Company article How to Grow Orchids.

 

6 thoughts on “Orchids

    1. Have you grown orchids before? Is it successful? Just wondering, because the article I read and posted a link to says they are hard to grow. I’ve never seen anyone grow them except in botanical gardens & greenhouses. I wish you great success! Orchids are so beautiful.

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