Orchid Recovery Center



Resource on Conservation of Rare and Endangered Orchid Species

Orchid Recovery Center

The Orchid Recovery Center is your online portal to orchid conservation and preservation. Our mission is to make individuals and communities aware of all the endangered and rare orchid species around the world and within their surrounding ecosystems; then connect them with the resources they need to help protect these unique flower. Find out about ways to take action through volunteering, donating to causes or joining your local orchid society. The Orchid Recovery Center is more than that though – We also provide you with plenty of other types of orchid information such as caring for your orchids or what the history of orchids are. Finally, if you have a resource on orchid recovery, protection or care, let us know about it and we will add it to our resources.

What Is an Orchid?Cypripedium Acaule Flickr User: 60548141@N00

 Whether you’re perusing the flowers at your local grocery store, the outdoor department at the hardware store, or you’ve visited a neighborhood nursery, you’ve undoubtedly seen the petals of the orchid flower. Orchid flowers have become extremely popular to display and give as gifts because of their unique visual appeal. In many ways, the flowers are art pieces. What you may not know is the orchid flower is not just a beautiful visual element, but also the subject of a number of scientific studies. The earliest of these studies involved the naming and classification of the orchid plant and general anatomical studies. Charles Darwin even conducted further research into orchid reproduction and hybridization in order to show the evolution of the flower.

History of the Orchid

The orchid received its name in 1845, courtesy of John Lindley. He chose “orchid” as a derivation of the Greek word “orkhis,” because of how it described the plant’s unique shape, known as the bulb at the root. Other research determined that in terms of the plant’s scientific classification, it’s a member of the plantae (or as it’s more commonly stated, plant) kingdom, and considered to be the largest family in the monocot segment of the Asparagales order. These are a lot of technical terms, but essentially what they mean is that the orchid family is grouped among flowering plants that produce seeds for spices or flavorings, and even fruits. One of the more common flavorings produced by member of the orchid family is the vanilla plant.
Part of what make orchids unique is that they do encompass such a wide range of plant types. They’re not strictly flowers, and they’re not strictly fruit and seed producers. With up to 26,000 known species, more than both mammals and birds, the orchid family makes up about one-tenth of all seed and fruit plants. The visual appearance and plant structure differ for each of these species, as their major functions largely determine what they need anatomically.

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Long before anyone knew exactly what the orchid was…The History of Orchids

dryadella gomes ferreira

Anatomy of an Orchid

Like all plants and animals, a number of factors determine the anatomical structure of an orchid. The purpose or function of the species, ease of reproduction and climate it can be found in are probably the three main aspects that determine how the orchid evolves, and they often all work together. Certain anatomical elements are common in every species of orchid, for example:

  • Every species has at least one bulbous root from which the stem or stems, leaves, flowers and by extension, seeds grow.
  • Some orchid plants have stems that grow quite large, while others remain smaller.
  • The shape and appearance of the leaves on an orchid can tell you not only what type of orchid they are, but also where they’re found.
  • Even the type of petals on an orchid flower is determined by the function the plant is performing and how it’s evolved over time.
  • Orchids that have multiple root bulbs or that grow closer to the ground might illustrate this evolutionary change.
  • A flower on an orchid that’s more closed off can be an adaptation as well, since it’s likely protecting its seeds for pollination in a different climate.
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Since the seeds of an orchid tend to be very small, greater access to them allows the plants to be pollinated more easily, making reproduction much easier. Easier reproduction means a species can continue with greater ease. However, some orchids are even able to reproduce without traditional pollination. This can be done by pollenating on their own or through asexual reproduction that comes from the stems of the plants instead of the interior of the flowers.

The physical anatomy of the orchid can determine what type of reproduction it will require, but if the orchid is growing in a climate that’s unfavorable to normal pollination, it must also evolve to remain alive. Asexual or self-pollination can be considered responses to that evolutionary need.

Where You Can Find Orchids?

An orchid’s ability to adapt doesn’t just help it survive; it helps it survive in different areas. The orchid’s natural habitat is considered to be a place with a tropical or subtropical climate, meaning it can be found abundantly in places like Brazil, Ecuador, Hawaii, Taiwan and even parts of California. This doesn’t mean you cannot find orchids in other locations, though, as certain species can be found as far south as Antarctica and as far north as the Arctic Circle. This helps to prove the idea that the plant can adapt to other climates with subtle changes to their anatomy throughout the generations. Even scientific experimentation with hybridization can change how an orchid will survive in a different climate.

Not everyone agrees with moving orchids from their traditional climates. Conservation groups throughout the world try to stress that orchids should remain where they are instead of being taken elsewhere to grow; especially rare and endangered orchids. In doing so, the goal is to encourage orchids to thrive on their own without scientific involvement.

This doesn’t mean you won’t continue to see orchids in your local stores or smell the fragrance of the flower in perfumes. The idea is to keep orchids where they’re the healthiest to allow them to continue growing and acting as the strong family they are. It’s much easier to harvest healthy batches of the flower than unhealthy batches. If orchids aren’t allowed to thrive, quantities will become limited, the seeds and fruit produced by them might become harder to find, and the flowers themselves can become more expensive to purchase. Orchids are beautiful, unique plants that should be around for many, many years to come. See Orchid Conservation for more info.

Orchid Videos
Orchid Montage
Orchid Conference
Orchid Show

One Comment

  1. I just love orchids but I’m not very successful in caring for them. I think I’ll stick to enjoying the ones that grow naturally in woods next to my back yard. I was going to dig up some and replant them in my yard but I came to the conclusion that it would be wrong to do so. After reading your site and seeing how delicate orchids are, I know I made the right choice.

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Orchid Recovery Center 2011