g Text Version
Beauty & Self
Books & Music
Food & Wine
Health & Fitness
Hobbies & Crafts
Home & Garden
News & Politics
Religion & Spirituality
Travel & Culture
TV & Movies

Bored? Games!
Take a Quiz
Rate My Photo

Cooking for Kids
Women's Fashion
Small Office/Home Office

All times in EST

Full Schedule
g Orchids Site

BellaOnline's Orchids Editor


What is an Orchid?

Guest Author - Susan Taylor

Orchids are classified in the family Orchidaceae which contains the largest group of plants on Earth. There are more than 25,000 known species of orchids and more are being discovered every day. The orchids are recognized as the most highly evolved plants with one of the widest distributions. They come in many sizes from miniatures that need to be seen with a magnifying glass to giants that grow vines up to 100 feet or weigh tons. They are found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica and Arctic regions. As a result of their wide distribution, orchids have some of the most diverse species imaginable.

The growth patterns of orchids can be broken down into two main groups. Sympodial growth is characterized by new growth from the base of old growths in a semi-linear manner. Examples of sympodial plants are Cattleyas, Dendrobiums and Oncidiums. Monopodial growth has one primary stem from which all leaves and flowers grow. Examples of monopodial plants are Vandas, Phragmipediums and Phalaenopsis.

Orchids are also classified by how they grow. Epiphytes grow on other vegetation; Lithophytes grow on rocks; Terrestrial grow in or on the ground; Saprophytes grow under leaves or even underground. The majority of tropical orchids are epiphytes or lithophytes; temperate orchids are usually terrestrial.

The orchid flower is the main predicator of whether a plant is an orchid or not. The flower must have three petals and three sepals, with the third petal or lip modified and differentiated from the other two. In most cases the flower is zygomorphic or the same on both sides of the flower as in a mirror image and perfectly symmetrical. The main test is the fusion of the male and female parts in a structure called a column with a complete separation so that it is almost impossible for the flower to self-pollinate naturally. The pollen is held in sacks called pollinia and different species have different numbers of pollinia.

Orchid seeds are also different from other types of plants. The pod or capsule can contain millions of seeds. These seeds are tiny and contain no food storage capacity as do most other plant seeds. Orchids depend upon specific types of fungus in order to germinate and develop. You can understand why millions of seeds are needed in order to keep a species going if the seed will only grow in the right place, where there are the correct fungi and under proper conditions.

Under laboratory conditions, the vast majority of seeds can be germinated and this is one of the main reasons that the costs of orchids has gone down enormously since the 1920s when the modern method of germinating and growing seed was discovered by Knudsen and put into commercial production. It is estimated that up to 90% germination is accomplished by this method.

The last major development that reduced the cost of orchids was the development of mericloning from undifferentiated cells of a highly acclaimed orchid. This produces clones of the mother plant and allows growers to know exactly what the flower and plant will look like when they get a seedling or mature plant.
Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Twitter Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Facebook Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to MySpace Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Del.icio.us Digg What+is+an+Orchid%3F Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Yahoo My Web Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Google Bookmarks Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Stumbleupon Add What+is+an+Orchid%3F to Reddit

Hybrids and Mericlones
Miniature Orchid Series
Paphiopedilum or Slipper Orchids
Editor's Picks Articles
Top Ten Articles
Previous Features
Site Map

For FREE email updates, subscribe to the Orchids Newsletter

Past Issues

Printer Friendly
tell friend
Tell a Friend
Email Editor

Content copyright © 2015 by Susan Taylor. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan Taylor. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Anu Dharmani for details.


g features
Orchids- Book Review

Making Name Labels For Orchids

Growing Your Cymbidiums

Archives | Site Map


Past Issues

Less than Monthly

BellaOnline on Facebook

| About BellaOnline | Privacy Policy | Advertising | Become an Editor |
Website copyright © 2016 Minerva WebWorks LLC. All rights reserved.

BellaOnline Editor