How do I know if my plant is an orchid?

Answer

Orchids are an incredibly unique and fascinating group of plants. Many people can identify a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) or Cattleya (the old corsage orchids), but the question often is asked, “What makes an orchid an orchid?” Orchids have some morphological (physical) traits that make them stand out from other plant families. In orchids, many of their floral parts come in groups of three. There are three sepals, which are the outer petals; these are what you see when you look at an unopened bud. There are also three petals, but in orchids one of the petals has been specialized into a labellum, or lip. This is usually the bottommost petal, and it helps to attract the pollinator to the reproductive organ. In orchids the reproductive organ, known as the column, combines both the male and female parts in one structure.

The most common orchid genera are PhalaenopsisCattleyaOncidiumDendrobiumVanda, and Cymbidium. Although these plants are all in the orchid family, they vary greatly in their physical and floral morphology.

 

Courtesy of the NYBG Plant Information Service

 

For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
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Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service

 

  • Last Updated Dec 14, 2022
  • Views 184
  • Answered By Anita Finkle

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