Family: Orchidaceae

Orchid Family

Orchids are perennial herbs with upright stems. Leaves may be alternate, opposite, or whorled on the stem, or may grow only at the base of the plant. The leaves have untoothed edges, may be flat or pleated, and have parallel veins. The flowers are variously arranged depending on the species and may be solitary at the tips of the stem. The flowers are highly specialized and usually have both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing parts, are 3-parted, and are zygomorphic (bilaterally symmetrical). There are 3 sepals and 3 petals that are attached above the ovary. One petal, usually the lowest, is highly modified and differs in appearance form the other two (it is called a labellum). There are from 1-3 stamens and an inferior ovary comprised of 3 united carpels. The fruit is a capsule that opens to release the many tiny seeds. The seed germinates and develops into a structure called a protocorm which may be covered by several rhizoids. Fungal pelotons are usually found within the protocorm structure.

North American Genera in this Family: