Orchids are delicate and unique and many only grow in certain parts of the world. They’re a lovely flower to encourage in your garden, or to have a few stems in a vase decorating your home. But how much do you know about orchids?
The orchid flowers are one of the largest families of plants in the world. In fact, there are more than 25,000 species in the world that occur naturally, plus many more which have been developed by orchid growers.
The name orchid comes from the Greek word orchis, which means testicle. They’re named this because of the shape of their bulbous roots.
The largest orchid in the world can grow up to 20 metres tall.
Many orchids are native to tropical and semi-tropical regions of the world, including Asia, South and Central America.
Some orchids are native to the UK.
Orchids come in a rainbow of colours, including green and black. But the one colour you’ll never see an orchid in is blue.
The most popular types of houseplant orchids are phalaenopsis (moth orchid), vanda, paphiopedilum (slipper orchid), cymbidium or dendrobium (Singapore orchid).
The most decorative forms of orchids have been bred so they can be used as cut flowers.
Dendrobium orchids have traditionally been regarded as being very exotic and extravagant. They have sprays of creamy white, purple, green, red, pink or striped dainty flowers on slender stems. The shape of their flowers is a bit like tiny daffodils.
The oncidium orchid is known as the Golden Shower orchid, as it features delicate yellowy brown flowers.
In 1848, flower buyers in the UK paid huge sums of money to get their hands on the phalenoposis or moth orchid, as it was extremely rare at the time.
Transporting orchids in the 19th century was a tricky business. More than half of the orchids shipped to Europe died in transit.
New species of orchids are still being discovered each year. In fact, between 200 and 300 new types are found annually.
Experts believe that there may be as many as 5000 new species of orchids that still haven’t been discovered yet.
In 2002, the Phragmipedium kovachi orchid was discovered. It was bright purple and caused a huge stir amongst orchid fans, even making headlines in the New York Times.