Orchids

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Orchidaceae is the largest family of the flowering plants (Angiospermae).Its name is derived from the genus Orchis. The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew list 880 genera and nearly 22000 accepted species, but the exact number is unknown (perhaps as many as 25000) because of taxonomic disputes. The number of orchid species equals about four times the number of mammal species, or more than twice the number of bird species. It also encompasses about 611% of all seed plants. About 800 new orchid species are added each year. The largest genera are Bulbophyllum (2000 species), Epidendrum (1500 species), Dendrobium (1400 species) and Pleurothallis (1000 species). The family also includes the Vanilla (the genus of the vanilla plant), Orchis (type genus) and many commonly cultivated plants like some Phalaenopsis or Cattleya. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species in the 19th century, horticulturists have more than 100000 hybrids and cultivars. Orchidaceae are cosmopolitan, occurring in almost every habitat apart from deserts and glaciers. The great majority are to be found in the tropics, mostly Asia, South America and Central America. They are found above the Arctic Circle, in southern Patagonia and even on Macquarie Island, close to Antarctica. The following list gives a rough overview of their distribution: tropical America: 250 to 270 genera tropical Asia: 260 to 300 genera tropical Africa: 230 to 270 genera Oceania: 50 to 70 genera Europe and temperate Asia: 40 to ...

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