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Orchids are monocots that belong to the family Orchidaceae: the largest and most diverse family of angiosperms. There are more than 800 genera and 25,000 species of orchids, and more hybrids and cultivars are created every year. Orchids can grow as epiphytes, terrestrials or lithophytes (attach their roots to the rock). There are many fascinating orchids everywhere in the cloud forest, some of them are tiny but still amazingly beautiful. The pictures on this page show a few examples. You can see more orchids at the special display at front desk and on my orchid page.

Illustration of two orchids

Orchid flowers

Orchid flowers are among the most advanced and intricate flowers in the plant kingdom. The basic theme of an orchid flower is an irregular (zygomorphic) flower with three sepals and three petals. Sizes and shapes vary greatly among different genera. Orchid flowers have evolved intricate phenotypes to attract their pollinators (mostly different types of insects). The highly developed interior of the orchid flower keeps the pollinators on a specific route that maximizes the benefit of each visit.
Sepals: usually colorful and similar to petals. In some genera (such as Masdevallia), sepals are the showiest part of the flower.
Petals: two lateral petals and a labellum.
Labellum (lip): a modified petal, usually the most colorful part of the flower. It provides a landing platform for pollinators.
The unique sexual structure of orchid:
Column: a combined structure of stamen and pistil. Inside a column, the stamen and pistil are separated by a rostellum to prevent self-pollination.
Stamen: pollen is packed into a clump called a pollinium that is dispersed as a unit. Usually have two or more pollinia.
Pistil: with fused carpels and inferior ovary. Each ovary contains many tiny ovules and generates dustlike seeds.

Many different orchids in the cloud forest

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Copyright for the photos on this website belongs to Pu Chen. Images should not be redistributed without the permission of the photographer.