Interesting orchid facts
Orchids are highly unusual flowers. Not only is this diverse genus one the oldest in existence, but it has the ability to grow in varying conditions and climates across the globe. According to Orchidologist, orchidaceae includes between 21,950 and 26,049 species and 880 genera, making it the largest family of flowering plants. That means the number of orchid species is four times larger than the number of mammals and four times the number of birds.
Here is some other interesting insight into these unique and intriguing blossoms:
There are two main types of orchids: terrestrials and epiphytes. The Cape and Islands Orchids Society explained that while terrestrials have expansive and deep root systems, epiphytes' roots are exposed above ground because that's the only way they can get the nutrients they need. Until experts came to comprehend the way that epiphytes grow, those orchids were considered parasitic since they often latch onto other plants. The other types include lithophytic orchids, which settle on rocks, and saprophytic orchids, which extract nutrients from dead or decaying things in nature.
Additionally, the Cape and Islands Orchids Society reported that for every species of orchid, there is a specific insect that is required for pollination. Orchids' reproductive parts are brightly colored and interestingly shaped so that they may attract those insects and tempt them into landing, pick up some of the pollen and fly away to carry it elsewhere.
You'll never see an orchid seed unless you have a microscope. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden noted that a seed's size is comparable to a speck of dust, and since it contains no endosperm, there are no nutrients inside it. Therefore, in order to germinate, the orchid has to come in contact with a particular fungus.
Scientists are still unsure of the exact time that orchids evolved, but they did get a hint from a bumblebee. In fact, after discovering a fossilized bumble bee coated in amber, researchers found orchid pollen on its back, according to LiveScience. The bee fossil was determined to be between 10 million to 15 million years old. However, Tom Mirenda, an orchid expert, told the source that experts are certain that this flower family like existed much earlier on – perhaps even before the continents divided into their current-day formation. The reason for this belief is that closely related orchids have been found thousands of miles away from each other.
At the peak of the Victorian era, between 1838 and 1910, there was an obsession with orchids. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden reported that there were actually hunters who traveled to remote areas across the world searching specifically for these blossoms. They went to great lengths to retrieve them, often having to deal with angry locals and officials. However, their efforts were not in vain. One shipment alone could be worth up to $80,000 during that time.
There were a multitude of famous orchid hunters throughout history, but one of the most famous was Benedict Roezl. The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden revealed that he collected and identified nearly 800 new species of flowering plants in his lifetime.
Did you know that the symmetry of an orchid blossom resembles that of the human face? LiveScience pointed out that this may be why people have had such a longstanding fascination with these flowers.
"When someone looks at an orchid, it looks back at you," Mirenda explained to the source.
If you enjoy the pleasant scent or sweet flavor of vanilla, you have orchids to thank. LifeScience noted that the vanilla plant is a species of these flowers.
There's still so much to be learned about these bewitching blossoms. The Kew Royal Botanic Gardens reported that between 200 and 300 new species are being found every year, and there may be up to 5,000 species still undiscovered.