Orchids taxonomy

Orchids taxonomy


The taxonomy of the orchid is something that has evolved slowly as soon as people started to realize that there were several different types of orchids. However, in order to understand the taxonomy of the orchid, people must first understand how these flowers are divided. The most common method used to classify these orchids is through subfamilies, of which there are five, which is then divided into tribes of which there are twenty. From there, the tribes are divided into sub tribes which there are around 70, then finally into alliances and genera, which there is 850 of. Total, to date most botanists recognize that there are 20,000 species of orchids.

The subfamilies are the one place in which most people define orchids. The most common family that orchids belong to is the epidendroidea family, which is the subfamily of about 80% of all the orchids in the world, they are defined by having a sub-erect anther. Those orchids in the epidendroidea subfamily make up around ninety to one hundred genres with 10,000 species belonging to this sub-family. Most of those flowers that are included in this sub-family is those that are considered epiphytes that comes with bulbs that sprout these flowers.

Another family that most people are going to hear about is the apostasioidea subfamily, which is the most primitive family that is out there. The orchids that are included in these subfamily are going to have two or three fertile anther while also having a filametous staminode. Within the sub-family is two genera that include sixteen species. Much smaller than other sub-families. However, this is the family of two of the most popular orchids which are the Apostasia and Neuwiedia.

Those orchids that belong to the Orchioidea subfamily are going to have a single fertile monandrow with a basitonic anther.

The Cypripedioidea subfamily of orchids are going to be home to those orchids that have two fertile anthers, and a shield shaped staminode with a lip. Within this sub family are around six genera that houses around 116 species. Most of those orchids that are included within this subfamily are going to be terrestrials or lithophytes.

The last subfamily is still included, though the orchids that belonged to this family are far distinct and this is the Vanilloidea, there is evidence that this orchid was alive and well during the time of the Aztec as they did use it for medicinal purposes. Given that this sub family is now distinct, there is not much information on these genera and species included.

When a person is wanting the distinct taxonomy of orchids, then they should be ready to do their research as it is a hard time to make sure that you are getting the information correct and so forth. There are many orchids and many times they can be very confusing since they may share characteristics that make it hard to classify them into just one sub-family, which is where the person should start to classify the orchid.


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