The purple orchid, Cattleya skinneri, Costa Rica’s National Flower
Costa Rica has been shown to have the most diverse fauna of any country in the world.
One of the most beautiful flowers found in the rainforest is the orchid. The orchid is also perhaps one of most particular and pesky families of flowers found throughout the world.
In Costa Rica alone, there are over 1,300 species of different orchids.
No plant family is more diverse than orchids. After all, the orchid family is the largest plant family, occupying almost all possible environments. In all scientists estimate that there are at least 25,000-30,000 different species of orchid on the planet.
They come in all colors of the rainbow, each with a distinct blossom and environment. Some orchids produce blossoms no larger than a mosquito; other orchid flowers are as large as a dinner plate.
Each species of orchid also has a specific environmental area and range that it occurs in. In fact orchids are so specific that some species are only found in certain trees at certain elevations and only bloom for a few days each year.
Particular orchid species have different requirements depending on where they grow. Many species of orchid grow up tree trunks. The orchid is not a parasite meaning it doesn’t hurt the tree at all, and other than stem-support takes nothing from the tree.
Since there are so many different types of orchid, it is hard to describe them generally. Some orchids require lots of sun. Some orchids only need an hour or two or direct sunlight each day.
Orchids have long been sought after by flower collectors. Sadly, orchid species are becoming extinct faster than they can be described and classified. Threats to orchids originate primarily from loss of habitat and collecting.