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a subject guide to growing and learning about Orchids
Last Updated: Jun 21, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Introduction Print Page

Fun Facts About Orchids

Orchids make up the world's most diverse plant family with the number of species estimated to be between 30,000 and 40,000 in over 800 genera. Almost every month new species are found and documented and very often they are found to be a completely new genus.

The largest orchid is generally agreed to be Grammatophyllum speciosum. It can weigh up to 2,000 pounds or 900 kilograms and is reputed to produce up to 10,000 flowers on a mature plant in nature.

The smallest orchid is Platystele jungermannioides which has flowers only half a millimeter or one-hundredth of an inch in diameter. The entire plant is only about a quarter of an inch or half a centimeter tall.

In sheer numbers of orchids sold nothing comes close to the popularity of the Phalaenopsis around the world. More are produced and sold than any other type of orchid. They are used for decorating as a result of the wide variety of colors available and their long flowering -- sometimes staying in bloom for four months.

The tallest freestanding orchid is Sobralia altissima from the high forests of Peru. It is reported to grow up to 44 feet or 13.5 meters high in optimum conditions. The bright reddish-purple flowers are up to 6 inches or 15 centimeters across and are displayed in spectacular groups of up to 8 flowers per stem.

Vanilla seeds and their surrounding pulp within the seed pod of the Vanilla Orchid are used in the food industry as the extremely popular flavoring "vanilla extract."  This is one of the very few nondecorative commercial uses for orchids.

Ecuador is home to more species of orchids than any other country in the world.

There is no true black orchid, despite all the Hollywood titles, but orchids do come in every color of the rainbow. But if you are looking for evil orchids see the section "Breaking Bad: When Plants Go Wild"  for orchids in literature and science fiction.


How to Care for Your Orchid

"Now that I have this plant, what do I do with it?" See the American Orchid Society's Orchid Basics on the AOS website.



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