What makes an orchid an orchid

Recently, I have been surprise by the number of “likes” I have received for a post I published several months ago: Parts of an Orchid.  I’ll attempt to write some more posts along these lines, as this seems to be what you (my readers) enjoy!

The origin of the name “Orchids” comes from the Greek word orchis.  This is because the orchids tend to have two tubers shaped like a pair of testicles.  These distinctive tubers separate it from its sister plant group, the lily family.  However when identifying orchids I do not recommend looking at the tubers as it is illegal to dig up orchids in Australia.

Another distinctive feature of an orchid is that both the male and female parts for reproduction are combined on a column, while in other plant families these are separated with sometimes one plant being either the male or female plant.  The column is also an important feature for identification, in particular Thelymitra, sun orchids.

Orchid reproduction

Many orchids rely on fungi for survival.  This makes them challenging to cultivate, with some being impossible to grow, and thus difficult or impossible to re-establish after habitat loss.  Consequently, the number of orchids species present on a site tends to indicate the quality of the site.

Something you may have or may not have noticed is that the flower of an orchid is symmetrical and this is not always applicable to other flowers.

Calochilus cupreus
Bearded orchid

Arachnorchis stricta

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