Orchid lovers unite! Orchids are everywhere this season. I often do a Wordless Wednesday post, but today I’m sharing the gorgeous orchids I saw this past weekend at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The exhibit is an attention grabber from the beginning…I was greeted by this wonderful wall of canned plants. How fun is that? It’s not only fun, but serves as a learning tool. Enlarge the photo and you’ll see that each can identifies the type of orchid. Don’t know much about orchids? No worries. Before I take you on an photographic tour of the exhibit, let me briefly share. I learned that orchids are not only beautiful, but many are also at-risk in their native habitats.
Natural populations of these orchids are found from India to the Philippines, New Guinea and Australia. All forty-six species are epiphytes (a plant that grows non-parasitically on another plant). They typically reside in moist, lowland evergreen forests. Phalaenopsis have short stems, usually less than eight inches that are almost hidden by strap type leaves. They have no pseudobulbs (typical of many orchid types). The flower spike arises between the leaves and have a lower, 3-lobbed lip petal.
Unfortunately, many phalaenopsis habitats are being degraded by forest culture and agriculture practices. There is very little data as to the ecology of many species. Having this type of data would be helpful to protecting their natural environments. The good news that since nursery-propagated plants are widely available, caring buyers can educate themselves as purchase the plants they love from those that are propagated rather than sold directly from the wild.
Most often called the slipper orchid, the Paphiopedilum can be easily identified by it’s pouch lip that acts a trap for pollinators (although the plant is not carnivorous), preventing an easy escape, thus luring them past the pollen masses. Sixty species of Paphiopedilum exist and can be found growing naturally in the Asian tropics. They grow most comfortably in shady forests and can also be found growing in the crevices of limestone. Because they are so lovely, they are vulnerable to overcollection. We need to be careful with these beauties as now some species only exist in remote parts of their natural terrain.
These gorgeous orchids are stunning in their natural habitat as they can be found in the tops of trees in tropical forests. There are 50 species that grow in Central and South America. The large lip is often used as a landing pad for bees and other pollinators. The colors and patterns of the orchid guide the bee to the pollen masses. Cattleyas have both one-leaved and two-leaved pseudobulbs. They are closely related to Laelias and Epidendrums, and can be easily hybridized with both.
I always think it’s good to learn a bit about the plants that we adore. Now I’ll leave you to quietly enjoy the rest of the tour.
Enjoy the rest of your week!
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