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Mrs Zane Rappa, e-mail: info@osgb.org.uk

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Orchids

The orchid family, the Orchidaceae, is a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant. Orchidaceae and Asteraceae are the two largest families of flowering plants. The former has about 28,000 currently accepted species, distributed in about 763 genera. The determination of which family is larger is still under debate, because verified data on the members of such enormous families is continually in flux.

Orchidaceae includes 6–11% of all seed plants. The largest genera are Bulbophyllum (2,000 species), Epidendrum (1,500 species), Dendrobium (1,400 species) and Pleurothallis (1,000 species). It also includes Vanilla, the type genus Orchis, and many commonly cultivated plants such as Phalaenopsis and Cattleya. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 180,000 hybrids.