Top 5 facts about orchids

Blooming unbelievable traits of these beautiful, rare and exotic flowers

(Image source: Pixabay)

1. A rare beauty

The ghost orchid (Epipogium aphyllum) is among the rarest in the world. Strangely, this plant contains no chlorophyll and only grows tiny scale-like leaves, so it has to rely on an array of symbiotic fungi for nourishment.

(Image credit: Mick Fournier)

2. Medicinal wonder

Orchids have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Dendrobium nobile is used to combat kidney disease, while Cremastra appendiculata, known as the Chinese tulip, is supposed to tackle tonsillitis and even cancers.

3. Orchid royalty

Paphiopedilum rothschildianum was named after a member of the wealthy Rothschild family and was so keenly hunted by collectors that it nearly became extinct. Nicknamed the King of Orchids, its rarity sees it sell at auction for up to £3,250 ($5,000) a plant.

(Image credit: Naoki Takebayashi)

4. More various than birds

New species of orchid are being discovered each year, adding to some 25,000 already accounted for – twice as many as there are species of bird. Estimates show that about 5,000 orchid varieties remain undiscovered.

5. Human likeness

The bilateral symmetry of an orchid flower gives it a similar basic shape to a human face. It’s been suggested this is what has led the plants to be so popular and sought after by collectors.
(Image source: Pixabay)

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 71

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