Each orchid flower is bilateral symmetric, which means that it can be divided in two equal parts.
Size, shape and texture of leaves depend on the habitat. Orchids that live in dry climate have thick leaves covered with wax, while species that live in warm and humid areas have thin, elongated leaves. Certain species of orchids do not have leaves at all.
Orchids do not have usual roots. They have rhizome, tuber or aerial roots.
Orchids can live on the ground (terrestrial forms), attached to woody plants (epiphytic types) or under the ground.
Certain species of orchids are parasitic. They are not able to produce food (sugar) using the sunlight and carbon dioxide (like other plants). Instead, they obtain food from fungi that live inside their roots.
Bond between orchids and certain species of insects is tight and highly specialized. Petals have similar shape and color like female insects to attract males and ensure pollination. Ophrys apifera, better known as the Bee Orchid, lures male bees with its enticing smell and bee like appearance. When a male bee approaches the flower to mate, it becomes covered in pollen and is sent off to pollinate the next orchid it visits.
Due to high specialization of pollination, extinction of insect means extinction of orchid (there is no one else who can pollinate it in the wild).
Flower of orchid can survive from few hours to 6 months, depending on the species.
Orchids produce several millions of miniature seeds. Only few seeds will develop into mature plant.
The genus Orchis comes from an Ancient Greek word meaning “testicle”; because of the shape of the bulbous roots. The term “orchid”, which is just a shortened form of the family Orchidaceae, was not introduced until 1845.
Orchid seeds do not have an endosperm which provides nutrients required for the germination. Due to this fact all orchids (including non-parasitic forms) live in symbiosis with fungi during germination. Germination can last from couple of weeks to 15 years.