August 17, 2017

One Big, Happy Family

Roger Sampson Photo | An orchid in bloom at Auckland Domain, New Zealand

Roger Sampson Photo | An orchid in bloom at Auckland Domain, New Zealand

One might think of orchids as exotic plants, growing lushly in a tropical setting. And one would be right – to a point. The orchid family, Orchidaceae, is one of the two largest families of flowering plants, with the aster family being the second. There is some debate as to which is the larger of the two, since keeping track of so many species and genera can be hard to do. The orchid family has anywhere from nearly 22,000 to 26,000 species in 880 genera. For a start, of those genera, Bulbophyllum has 2,000 species, Epidendrum has 1,500 and Dendrobium has 1,400. Horticulturists have contributed to the explosion of varieties for a couple of centuries, producing more than 100,000 hybrids and cultivars. The American Orchid Society puts the total over 154,000 in The International Orchid Register, saying it increases daily, adding up to 4,000 new hybrids annually. The orchid family is a cosmopolitan one, growing everywhere except in glaciers (even in Maine), with the heaviest concentration in the tropics.

Also known as boat orchid, this Cymbidium orchid was photographed by Roger Sampson at Auckland Domain in New Zealand earlier in March. Roger is a New Zealand photographer who describes his work as a hobby. “Nature is the star,” he says, “and I just expose nature.” You can find him on Facebook and YouTube, including videos of his visit to Auckland Domain.