How Many Species Of Orchids Are There?
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- Written by Holly Hughes on March 13, 2023
Orchids are a plant known all over the world for their elegant beauty and delicate flowers. However, the reason these stunning blooms are one of the most popular flowers in the world isn’t just down to their exotic beauty and prominent place in ancient history and modern pop culture.
It’s also due to the sheer number of orchids that exist. According to Kew Gardens, varieties of this flowering plant can be found in almost every habitat on every continent on the planet, including in northern parts of the Arctic Circle!
So just how many types of orchid are there? And how can you know which is the right one to choose to celebrate your special occasion? Keep reading to find out!
How many varieties of orchids are there?
One of the biggest families of flowering plants, orchids are currently believed to have approximately 28,000 known species in existence. To put this into context, this is four times the amount of mammals currently in the world, twice the number of birds and almost equal to the number of bony fish.
On top of this, horticulturists have cultivated over 100,000 cultivars and hybrids since tropical species became a part of cultivation practices in the 19th Century.
To make this vast number of species more digestible, orchids have been categorized into around 850 small groups, which are called genera (plural) or genus (singular).
What are the different varieties of orchids?
Let’s look at some of the biggest genera amongst the different species of orchids. With approximately 2,000 species, the largest family group is the Bulbophyllum. The second largest is Epidendrum with 1,500 species, closely followed by Dendrobium (which comprises 1,400 types).
The Pleurothallis genus, which contains 1,000 types of the plant, is a group known for having some of the most commonly cultivated types of orchid, such as Phalaenopsis and Cattleya. It’s also home to the type genus Orchis and includes the genus of the vanilla plant.
What are the most common orchid varieties?
Within these large orchid groups are common varieties you are probably already familiar with. The below are some of these more popular types which you might consider using in your next flower arrangement or including in your plant collection.
Native to South and Central America, this type of plant is fondly known as the “queen of orchids”. With huge and deliciously perfumed flowers, Cattleya is a variety known for its distinctive and showy features. Due to these attention-grabbing features, this variety is often used in corsages and therefore is a great choice if looking for the perfect flower to wear - or gift to someone - at prom.
Related Post: What Flower Do You Get For Prom?
Due to a moth-like appearance, Phalaenopsis are known as “moth orchids” and come from tropical areas such as Asia and the South Pacific. This variety is the easiest to grow at home and therefore the most popular type of orchid plant sold today. You will know them by their broad and big leaves that are complemented by long flower stems that culminate in bursts of blossoms ranging in color from yellow to green, pink, red, and white.
Related Post: How To Get Orchids To Rebloom
Are orchids endangered?
Many orchids are threatened all over the world. Climate change, overcollection, and habitat loss all contribute to the endangerment of these species. However, almost all types of orchid are listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species’ Appendix II, which limits trading of these species and is regulated by a permit system.
When should you send orchids?
With so many types of orchid flowers out there to choose from, knowing when to send these flowers and to whom can seem tricky.
In fact, the opposite is true. Given the broad expanse of orchids available from online stores such as ProFlowers and FTD, they are often the perfect plant or flower to give for any number of occasions.
Orchids carry connotations of good health, purity, prosperity, elegance, thoughtfulness, beauty, and fertility. They have also been believed to bring happiness and good luck to the people who grew them. With such broad and positive symbolism, orchids are therefore an ideal gift for special events such as the birth of a new baby, a special anniversary, Mother’s Day, a housewarming, job promotion, or sending get well soon wishes to a sick loved one.
This versatility, coupled with the fact that orchids are a great inbetween gift between a bouquet of flowers or a houseplant, make this flowering plant the perfect option when choosing a thoughtful gift for someone you might not know very well.
Best of all, they do not affect allergy sufferers and are non-toxic to pets so you can count on them to be a safe and reliable gift option for families or animal-loving households.
Related Post:The Best Pet-Friendly Houseplants
Where can I buy orchids online?
If you’ve fallen in love with the majesty and wonder of orchids reading this article, remember that you can easily order and care for these phenomenally beautiful plants in your home! Orchids are widely available either as bouquet flowers or as a standalone plant at many online flower stores. Here’s some of our favorite places to easily have these flowers delivered fresh and elegant to your door:
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