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Botanic Garden > Garden Articles > About Garden > Orchid Types, Terrestrial, Epiphytes and Lithophytes

Orchid Types, Terrestrial, Epiphytes and Lithophytes

2016/8/8 12:02:33

In such a large family of orchids, which consist of thousand of species and hybrids, the orchid family, Orchidaceae is basically divided into two major types of orchids. The terrestrial orchids, which are all orchids that grow on ground soil and the epiphytes which include all orchids that live upon trees. There is a minor group of orchids, namely the lithophytes, which are growing on rocks and is of minor importance to the caring of orchids.

Some among the most popular orchids for cultivation are coming from the terrestrial type. Some are not truly terrestrial or semi-terrestrial orchids since aside of their main roots that grow in ground soil they also have some aerial roots which are exposed into the air.

The first terrestrial orchid species cultivated by men were the Cynbidiums. These species include about 40 species and generated thousand of hybrids. Cymbidiums are the perfect example of a semi-terrestrial orchid that grows on ground soil as well as upon trees and on rocks. Grounds of loose humus that are composed of rotten wood and decomposed leaves are the best growing media for these cymbidiums.

Cymbidiums are easily found in the South East Asian region and Japan, and extended to the grounds of Australia. Their popularity is due to their easy to care for orchid, which should be an ideal choice for novices. It will be very motivating for a beginner to see a cymbidium blooms with beautiful flowers after caring for it in a very easy way.

Orchids are not the only plants that can be considered and reserved as an epiphyte. As a matter of fact any plant that possesses roots above the ground and grow upon other plant, like a tree and are non parasitic can be considered as an epiphyte, e.g. tea epiphytes, bromeliads, mosses etc. Among the orchid epiphytes, Dendrobiums are the most popular orchid to cultivate. Like the cymbidiums they are easy to grow but need a bit more care. Dendrobiums also do not bloom easily, and if it blooms it will be on an irregular basis.

Dendrobiums include more than 1,000 species which can be easily found in tropical regions such as South East Asia, Northern India, Polynesia and Australia hence they could flourish best in warm and humid atmosphere.

The Phalaenopsis is another common epiphyte orchid type that is also considered as an easy to grow orchid. It has colorful flowers that last for quite a long time and are frequently seen in wedding parties or ceremonies.

Another fact that should be emphasized is that epiphytic orchids are not parasites that take the nourishment from trees they live upon. They manage themselves to provide their own nutrition by the means of the roots that capture the accumulation of organic substances between the roots and tree branches. These fleshy roots also keep the sustainability of the plant in hard times of dry and wet periods.

The sturdy, tough core of the root is enclosed by a white sponge like cover that could easily absorb water. During rains, this cover will absorb water, and when it is totally filled up, its color turns into light green. The watery root will then release the water little by little to keep all tissues fresh.

As mentioned earlier, there are some lithophytic orchids too. This type clings to rocks and stones with very limited food resources where the lithophytes could thrive in strained light, and should always be kept in open and airy condition.

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