Orchid Types

There are two types of orchid, terrestrial orchids and epiphyte orchids.  Within these two types of orchid there are may different species and hybrids.  Orchids that grow on the ground are called terrestrial orchids.  Ephipyte orchids are a type of orchid that grow above the ground, on poles, rocks, or even in trees.  Some orchids do not fall distinctly into the terrestrial or epiphyte category, these orchid types are called semi-terrestrial and they have roots above and below ground.

One of the first types of orchid to be cultivated is the Cymbidium orchid.  It is a semi-terrestrial orchid with 40 species and thousands of hybrids.  They grow on trees and rocks as well as on the ground, and particularly like loose humus of rooted wood and decayed leaves.  The cymbidium orchid is native to the Southeast Asia and Australia area.  They are easy to grow for beginners and with proper care can provide beautiful flowers every year.

The term epiphyte refers to any plant that has its root system above ground growing on trees, poles, rocks, etc.  So the term epiphyte is not reserved solely for a type of orchid, but can be applied to any plant that grows above ground.  There are over 1000 species of epiphyte orchids.  They are a little more difficult to grow than the Cymbidiums and don’t flower as easily or on a regular basis.  Dendrobiums is a huge genus of orchids that is an epiphyte orchid and is the best know epiphyte orchid.  They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, from the high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains to lowland tropical forests and even to the dry climate of the Australian desert.

Phalaenopsis is another epiphyte orchid type that is very popular.  There are about 60 species with many popular hybrids.  Often called Phal orchids, phalaenopsis orchids are often seen at weddings.  Phal orchids can be found in many colors including yellow, pink, white and even stripes.

Epiphytic orchids grow on trees and other structures or building in a non-parasitic way.  The leaves and other organic debris that accumulates in cracks and crevices is used by the epiphytic orchid for nourishment.  The orchid uses it’s roots to retain moisture from rain for it to use during dry spells.  The spongy off-white coving around the core of the root absorbs the water to later use, when it’s fully saturated it turns a shade of light green.

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