The saprophytic orchids grow in the soils which lack nitrogenous compounds, so to fulfil their nutrition requirement they have adapted to a different way of nutrition. This mode of nutrition has also made them to change their morphological structure; their leaves are reduced to mere scales. Saprophytes such as some of the Corallorhiza species lack chlorophyll and are mostly leafless. They get their nutrition with the help of mycorrhizal fungi; which is present in the soil and within the root cells. Saprophytic orchids do not possess true roots, instead have rhizomatous or fleshy fibrous roots.
When the time comes the resting underground parts sends out flowering shoots. Flowers of these orchids are no less than other orchids; and some just as beautiful. These are also known not to flower every year. One good thing about saprophytes is that they are not affected by pest and diseases that are common to other orchids. Existing most of the time underground, saprophytes escape many infections and pests which infect the above ground parts such as stem and leaves.
A lot of patience is required to grow saprophytes. Caring for saprophytes is also much easier as they do not require much attention. Apart from keeping an eye on rotting of the underground parts, watering is not required frequently. These mostly prefer to grow in leaf litter and depending upon the natural growth habit; they may or may not require sunlight.
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