Please help me identify my orchid

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by MyFirstOrchid, Jul 19, 2007.

  1. MyFirstOrchid

    MyFirstOrchid Member

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    Montreal, Canada
    I have no idea what kind of orchid was given me. This is what it looks like...
    One of the flowers petals has started to curve inward, its become concave. Is that a bad sign?
    What are the light/water requirements for this type of orchid?
    THANK YOU!!!

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  2. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Siloam Springs, AR, USA
    Your orchid appears to be a Phalaenopsis. It is almost certainly a hybrid so finding a species name will not be likely. Most growers give their hybrids a large variety of names, often usually something personal such as the name of a spouse, child, or friend. So if you get really lucky searching for photos of Phalaenopsis orchids on the net you might run across one that is quite similar. I've seen that exact variety at an orchid show in Colombus, Ohio but did not write down the name.

    As for your concerns. Every orchid has three petals and three sepals. The three petals sit forward and the sepals sit just behind the petals. The lower petal is often called a runway petal and is almost always a different shape from the two at the top left and top right. The one in the top center is the dorsal sepal and the other two sepals sit to the lower left and right and behind the runway petal.

    The runway is used by the orchid in nature as an enticement to an insect. Every wild orchid (your plant is not likely wild) has an "assigned" insect in nature which does the pollination of that species. The insect can recognize the species by the smell, which is known to botanists as a pheromone. By having an "assigned" insect, nature prevents cross pollination in the wild. The orchid most likely is mimicking the pheromone scent of the female of the insect species. The males are then attracted to the flower thinking he is about to find a "girl friend". Cross pollination of orchids is something man does, it is almost never seen in the wild. That insect knows through instinct not to land on any other orchid species once it has now collected pollen from a plant. Very ingenious. But he is still on the hunt for that "girl friend" so he may be drawn to another orchid of the same species and then deposit his pollen. Nature has accomplished its goal. That concept sounds very foreign to many people but has been proven in repeated experiments in the wild.

    Since the runway is curved slightly upwards it is an easy place for the insect to land. Once on the "runway" the insect is drawn to the center portion of the flower and that is where the pollen is found. Some species actually have "traps" which prevent the insect from leaving until it has walked completely through the flower and covered itself with pollen. The insect is "invited" to enter by the scent and then flies off to another identical flower to distribute that pollen thus producing pollination. So don't worry about the shape. It is quite natural. Also of great interest, botanists have proven an insect can "smell" the scent it is assigned at great distances. Some scientists estimate as much as one mile away!

    Interestingly, it will take a long time for the tiny seeds to float on the wind and land in a natural pocket of sticky gelatinous sugary substance nature provides. The artificial form of that substance is called agar. Once it lands in the natural form of agar, that substance provides sustenance to the seed until it can grow large enough to attach itself to the tree. it can take 7 years for the plant to grow large enough to produce another flower.

    If you are not experienced in the care of orchids I suggest you look up "orchids" using the search engine at the top of the page. There are discussions on this board about their care. I'm giving you a link to some basic care tips for orchids but I'll quickly admit Phalaenopsis is not a group I often grow. I'm sure there are others on this board that have plenty of experience.

    Careful. Orchid collecting can become addictive!!
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2007

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