The Botanical Orchids
After mastering the techniques involved in growing Cattleya, Phalaenopsis, and Paphiopedilum, it is a natural desire of a promising orchid collector to venture out into new domains and grow other complex orchids. For the beginners, the next accepted step is to start discovering the botanical orchids – which are less familiar orchids that are yet to achieve extensive commercial success.
Despite this, these botanical orchids reward us with their uniqueness or their exquisite beauty. These plants are known as botanical orchids as they are of little importance to florists as well as people who grow orchids commercially. It is only the botanists who find them of great interest.
In fact, a number of these botanical orchids are remarkably beautiful similar to other members of the well-known genera to which they belong. Nevertheless, they are mainly cultivated for their interesting form and unusual colors. Sometimes, they are also grown for their bizarreness.
Numerous, but certainly not all, such orchids are so small that they can easily be accommodated in the spaces between the larger plants in your collection. Orchids possess mysterious beauty as well as an allure. Their flowers have unbelievable shapes, colors and fragrance. Perhaps all these add to the belief that it is difficult to grow orchids and bring them to flower.
However, in actual fact, most orchids can be grown without much difficulty. In fact, some of them are just about imperishable. If you have an eye for orchids, you can easily grow your orchids, enable them to flourish and bloom only with the help of a few tips.
It is interesting to note that more than 30,000 orchid species are found growing naturally across the globe, except in the most arid deserts and Antarctica. In addition, humans have crossbred several orchids to create more than 150,000 hybrids and the number is increasing every day.
Most of these hybrids are cultivated for their attractive flowers, but some are also utilized for other purposes. For instance, the seedpods of the Vanilla orchid provide us with the well-liked essence. Moreover, different from most other plants, these orchids do not grow in soil, but they are grown in air.
The roots of these orchids bind themselves to rocks and trees, where they are able to take up moisture and various nutriments that swamp them in the rainforest. For several centuries, people across the globe have fallen in love with the flowers of their orchids.
The vivid colors, interesting shapes and captivating fragrance have evolved with the aim of attracting pollinators. Many orchids only have a relationship with a particular type of bird or insect that is most capable of pollinating their flowers. A study published in the scientific journal Nature has put forward that the origin of orchids date backs to much earlier than it was originally believed.
In fact, an extinct stingless bee species, known as Proplebeia dominicana, was discovered trapped in the amber of Miocene and it dates back to about 15 million to 20 million years. It was also found that the bee was carrying the pollen of an orchid taxon, Meliorchis caribea, which was unheard of earlier, on its wings.
This was the first ever proof of fossilised orchids that has been discovered till date. This also substantiates that insects have been active pollinators of orchids even in those days. Botanists have now classified this extinct orchid, M. caribea, in the extant tribe known as Cranichideae, sub-tribe Goodyerinae (sub-family Orchidoideae).
Genetic sequencing of orchids has hinted that these plants may have been in existence about 76 million to 84 million years back, during the Late Cretaceous. Precisely speaking, it is very likely that orchids co-existed with dinosaurs.
In general, the biogeography as well as phylogenetic patterns of Orchidaceae reveals that they are much older than what is thought of and may date back to about 100 million years. It has been possible to ascertain the age of the most important branches of the orchid family applying the molecular clock method.
In addition, this method has also helped to confirm that the sub-family Vanilloideae is also an orchid branch at the basal dichotomy of monandrous orchids. It is also certain that sub-family Vanilloideae evolved at the initial stage of the evolution of this plant family.
As the plants in this sub-family are found across the globe, especially in the tropical and sub-tropical regions, ranging from tropical Asia to tropical America, West Africa and New Guinea, and the continents started separating from each other millions of years ago, there must have been significant biotic exchanges following this split, especially because it is estimated that Vanilla has been in existence since 60 to 70 million years back.
While they are generally considered to be tropical flowers, orchids are found growing naturally in nearly all climates. In present times, orchids are usually considered to be a representation of exceptional as well as delicate beauty. For several centuries orchids have been considered to be symbols of love, opulence and beauty.
During the Middle Ages, people used orchids in the form of medication for curing various ailments. In addition, people also believed that orchids possessed aphrodisiac properties. It also formed a major constituent of specific love potions. Nevertheless, it is imperative to recognize that all orchids are not suited to bear flowers that can be utilized as cut flowers.
Moreover, the period for which your orchids would last is subject to the variety as well as the amount of care you have for the flowers. It is worth mentioning here that each and every variety of cut orchids have been particularly bred to bear blooms that can be utilized as cut flowers.
All these flowers last for a long period and have a nearly waxy texture. In fact, orchids having such heavier texture will usually last for a longer period compared to the blooms that are more delicate. This is particularly true if you are utilizing the single blooms in bouquets, corsages or boutonnieres.
Orchids can be found growing almost everywhere – in the equatorial tropics, the Arctic Tundra and all the places lying between them. The reason why orchids are found growing in such diverse conditions and places is the fact that these plants are capable of adapting to a variety of environment.
There are numerous varieties of orchids that flourish in so many diverse growing conditions. This makes it relatively easier to find an orchid that will suit well to the conditions that you are able to provide them – irrespective of whether they are grown on a kitchen window or in a large greenhouse.
Nearly all the orchids that are cultivated today have their origin in the tropics. When they are in their natural habitat, the orchids usually attach themselves to the surface of other plants or barks of trees. In fact, orchids have thick and white roots that are especially modified to take up moisture and various dissolved nutriments.
Since the tropical orchids are generally found growing high up on the trees, instead of growing on the floor of the forest, they are habituated to excellent air circulation as well as lots of light. These plants have a preference for and require high intensity of light for 12 hours every day and all through the year, which is similar to the conditions during midsummer in the temperate regions.
Orchids in alphabetical order