Related species include Cattleya, Dendrobium, Paphiopedilum and Phalaenopsis.
Flowers are 2-3 inches across, with 3 colored sepals, 2 colored petals and a 3rd petal modified into a lip that is frilled or fringed and colored differently.
Stems are 16-24 inches long bearing 8-20 flowers.
Plant is a terrestrial (grows in the ground) perennial, classed as a monocotyledon, leaves mostly parallel veined.
Most cultivars have no fragrance.
Best storage technique is to leave the flowers on their mother plants under normal growing conditions until needed. However, after being cut, the best storage or holding temperature is 43F to protect from possible ethylene damage to 55F if chill damage is possible for some cultivars.
From the Greek “kymbe” (a boat), referring to the shape of the flower’s lip. This flower has become a very important mass market floral item for which one grower in California should take much of the credit due to his production and marketing capabilities.
Orchids have long been highly sought after, probably for the unusual beauty of their design. Orchid hunters in the nineteenth century collected them by the ton, and chopped down as many as four thousand trees at one time for the Orchids growing on them.
Most are classified as “epiphytes” or air plants as they grow on other plants and elevated supports. They are not parasites but obtain water and nutrients through a spongy covering of their roots.
Chilling injury or ethylene damage appears as translucent or dried patches on petals and sepals or darkening of the lip and column. Should be purchased when at least two flowers per spike are open or fully open for individual flowers.
Also grown as potted plants, used for cut flowers and individual flowers for corsages. This family is generally believed to contain the largest number of species, somewhere around 30,000.