For many, the orchid symbolizes the beauty and fragility of the rainforest. Actually, these plants are surprisingly tough, able to survive drying out and heat typical of the upper canopy where most species occur. Orchids (Orchidaceae) comprise the most diverse family of plants, with over 25,000 described species. The Amazon is among the world's richest sources of native orchids, from where thousands of species are described. Many more undoubtedly remain to be discovered. However, people who travel there expecting to see trees festooned with brightly colored orchids are invariably disappointed. As mentioned, most species grow in the upper canopy as epiphytes on branches. Here they are hidden from view on the ground. Also, many species flower only rarely so even when the plant is visible, chances are it will not be blooming. Hence, several of the specimens shown here were being cultivated.
Click below for orchid photos and natural history information:
"And here are the orchids!
Never having seen such gaiety I will read these flowers for you."
William Carlos Williams A Celebration 1921