According to botanical data, there are approximately 800 genus of orchids, which account for more than 30,000 different species. The term orchid was coined in 1845 from the Greek word for testicle (orkhis), owing to the appearance of plant roots. Interesting facts about orchids are highlighted in the upcoming paragraphs.
Interesting Orchid Facts
They are grouped under the family Orchidaceae of the order Asparagales. Because of their adaptability to varied climatic conditions, orchids are next to grasses in distribution.
Truly speaking, there is no other plant species that is as diverse as the orchids. The largest orchid type (giant orchid or (Grammatophyllum)) is about 10 cm across, while the smallest orchid measures 2 mm in size.
Mention any type of habitat (deserts, tundra, grasslands, rainforest), and orchids are available. However, the number of species is found to be highest in the tropical conditions of Asia, Africa and America. The abundance of orchids decreases as the temperature goes down.
Facts about growth habit of orchids are known to all of us. In general, they are epiphytes and cling to the tree trunks. The exposed roots obtain moisture and nutrition from natural sources like atmospheric air and rain.
There is an interesting part about growing terrestrial orchids in ground soil. They have a symbiotic relationship with various strains of fungi, which colonize the roots. Some orchids (e.g., Cephalanthera) are associated with specific species of fungi.
Orchids are monopodial or sympodial in growth habit. Monopodial orchids (e.g., phalaenopsis) have an upright vegetative apex, and new leaves develop in an alternate fashion from the central stem. The flower stalk shoots up from the stem, from amongst the leaves. Sympodial orchids (e.g., dendrobiums) develop pseudobulbs from rhizome and grow horizontally.
The long shelf life of orchid blooms is an adaptation to increase pollination chances. In short, the pistil remains receptive for an extended period. For homegrown orchids, flowers can be hand pollinated to collect minute seeds.
Despite the fact that orchids produce seeds, they are commonly propagated by vegetative methods. The main reason for this is, difficulty in germination in garden soil or potting media.
The tiny orchid seeds (devoid of stored nutrients) depend on fungi for sprouting. This symbiotic relationship is termed as orchid mycorrhiza. The fungi collect carbon from nearby plants and provide it to the seeds to promote germination.
Orchids hold a reputation of exotic plants, and they were grown under controlled conditions previously. But, growing these lovely flowering plants in indoor rooms and outdoors is no longer a challenge.
This has been possible due to the improved plant hybridization approaches, which enabled production of many tropical orchid hybrids. Planting orchids in pots is best proceeded in soilless mix, or they can be grown in well-drained soil.