Erica's Original Notes
Orchids are found from the tropics to the sub‑arctic and are the most developed of flowers, belonging to the class of parallel veining, to which the lily, onion and banana also belong. These plants are marvellous examples of sexual engineering ('orchis' means 'testicle'). The orchid was thought to be an aphrodisiac because of its shape (Doctrine of Signatures). It has adapted to attract pollinators by colour, odour and mimicry.
There are several types of orchids, including:
- subterranean, found in Australia;
- lithophytes, growing on rocks;
- terrestrial, with underground roots;
- saprophytes, living on decaying material;
- epiphytes, with aerial roots for absorbing moisture. Epiphytes that live in an area with a dry season develop a hardened root tip covered with velamen (a layer of air-containing cells) which protects and insulates, absorbing moisture but preventing it from evaporating.
Orchid seeds are like dust and need a symbiotic fungus for growth.
Pseudo-bulb is the name given to the swollen stem for storage.
Propagation is by meristematic tissue in culture fluid (undifferentiated tissue from growth buds).
Corsages are made from the cattlea orchid because these have firm petals.
There are perhaps 40 species, subspecies and varieties of orchids in B.C., including Goodyera oblongifolia (rattlesnake orchid); G.repens (plantain orchid); Epipactis gigantea (stream orchid, giant helleborine) found at Radium Hot Springs; Cypripedium calceolus (yellow moccasin orchid); C.montanum; C.passerinum; Calypso bulbosa.
Tillandsia ursinioides (Spanish moss) is a bromeliad and not an orchid.
Updates 2013 (Gardener Walk Notes)
Cypripedium japonicum var. formosanum, found in the Sino-Himalayan Garden, does not require associated mycorrhiza for survival. There used to be other Cypripedium in the Boreal Forest area, but they have disappeared. Theft of these plants is a problem.
All about Orchids
Native Orchids of BC