Saturday, May 7, 2011

Phalaenopsis orchids

Phalaenopsis is a genus of orchids containing about 60 species, natural and artificial hybrids.
The name is probably given from the greek name of moth, Phalaen so it means "moth-alike". There is some ressemblance between the moth in the fly and this shape of this type of orchid.

This orchid family is native in Asia (From Himalayan mountains to Philippines and Taiwan) and Australia and is widely popular in the flower market, being probably the most sold in the world.
The flower has a very interesting behaviour during polination. The petals, having extremely beautiful colors, have the role to attract the insects (on top of the protection role for the essentials parts of the flower). After the moment of poliantion, the petals and sepals will dry and desintegrate so they will not use the valuable energy of the plant anymore. Their role is finished. In other species of Phalaenopsis , the petals and sepals just start producing chloroplasts, turn into green and behave like leaves doing the photosynthesize.

Phalaenopsis are quite easy to grow, as long as they are provided with the conditions from they natural climate (20-35°C) but can easily adapt to a range of 15-30°C . They also requires high humidity (60-70%), low light and fresh air. The flowering process is caused by a drop of the daytime temperature bellow 27°C for a period of 2-4 weeks. In natural environment it is happening during fall. Kept inside, the flower will last 2-3 month.
There are two distinct groups of Phalaenopsis:
- a group with large and round flower of white or pink color, and branches up to 1m long
- a group with shorter stems, not so round shape and waxy flowers of more intense colors

In the history, the orchid was having different symbols. In ancient China it was considered a flower with royal parfume. Confucius was even saying that the pleasure caused by seeing a beloved person after a long period of time can be compared with staying in a room full of orchids. In Greece it was considered a symbol of fertility and it was offered to the brides. In Turkey, some species of orchid were used in narghile due to their hallucinogen effect.

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