Orchids belong to the largest group of plants on Earth, certainly the most genetically diverse. The number of species in the orchid family is just mind boggling, by some estimates over 28,000. The number of hybrids is close to 10 times that amount, by other estimates exceeding 250,000 different hybrids, and the the number grow by 1000 or more hybrids each year. Some genera have a few species in them, while giant genera
( Bulbophyllum , Dendrobium ) can have over 1000 species. The genus Dendrobium is now considered to have over 2000 species. Just tackling one of the sections within the genus is a challenge, but I've chosen one of my favorite groups, the pendant deciduous group, mostly from seasonally dry forests of India, Thailand, and Burma / Myanmar.
Some of the species are petite, such as Dendrobium unicum, measuring 8 or 10 inches in length. Others, such as the hefty Philippine species D. superbum , can have canes that measure over 8 feet in length. The flowers range in color from pure white to flashy multi-colored types with 3 or 4 colors. Flower sizes can range from a modest 1/2 inch bloom to well over 4 inches in the case of the best superbum varieties.
|Dendrobium parishii a specimen plant|
A great many of these species have fragrant flowers as well as flashy colors. Pay the plants some special attention when they go dormant, and enjoy the blooms in the early months of the following year. The diversity of species available is remarkable, and many of them adapt to home conditions, as well as being excellent candidates for tropical landscaping. Try some small plants to see if you get along with them. You may be pleasantly surprised.