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Orchid Family (Orchidaceae)

Biology And Ecology Of Orchids, Native Orchids In North America, Orchids And Humans

The many species of orchids comprise one of the largest families of flowering plants, the Orchidaceae, which contains about 1,000 genera and about 20,000 species. Orchids have a worldwide distribution, and they occur in a wide variety of habitats, although their greatest diversity of species is in tropical rain forest. The most species-rich genera of orchids are Dendrobium and Bulbophyllus, each with about 1,500 species, and Pleurothallis, with 1,000 species.

Species of orchids can have very unusual morphological traits and ecological relationships, especially with their species of pollinating insects. For these reasons, along with the great beauty of their flowers, orchids hold a special place in the hearts of botanists, ecologists, and horticulturists. However, appreciation of the intrinsic value of orchids extends far beyond the scientists who work with these plants—few people fail to be enthralled by the loveliness of orchid flowers.

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