Scales and Tales

Orchids — Nature's Eye Candy

When you think of orchids in nature, what conjures in your mind - lush rainforests, exotic locations, and wedding boutonnieres? There are over 20,000 different kinds of orchids, not including countless thousands of hybrid varieties. Orchids live in on every continent of the world except Antarctica. This diverse and surprisingly hardy flowering plant comes in many shapes and sizes. We even have native orchids here in South Dakota. The flower of each variety has a unique and delicate character that is fascinating to the eye. Read on to discover just a few of the most common types of orchids.

Cattleya Orchids: Derived largely from South America, these orchids typically have large showy blooms and are probably what most people think of when picturing an orchid flower, as they are otherwise known as the Corsage Orchid. They have a shorter bloom length than some of their relatives and are generally found in lavenders and whites.

Phalaenopsis Orchids: These orchids are found throughout Southeast Asia and are one of the most common orchids sold today. Many hybrids have been created that adapt well to home environments. Bloom length can be up to three months and common colors are white, purple, pink and yellow. This orchid is commonly known as a Moth Orchid.

Cymbidium Orchids: "Boat Orchids" are native to Asia and northern Australia and were one of the first orchids to be cultivated. They are a little more tolerant to colder temperatures and will bloom from winter into spring. Colors include, but aren't limited to: white, green, yellowish-green, cream, brown and red.

Dendrobium Orchids: These are diverse group common to Southeast Asia, found growing in tropical lowlands and in higher altitudes. There are approximately 1,200 species making them one of the largest of the orchid groups. Common names for these popular plants are Bamboo Orchid and Singapore Orchid. Bloom length is approximately 8 to 10 weeks and common colors are white, purple, yellow, green and varying shades of pink.

Oncidium Orchids: The "Dancing Lady" can be found in South America, northern Mexico, the Caribbean and parts of south Florida. They put on quite a show with their long flower spikes containing dozens of blooms. Blooms last approximately 2 to 4 weeks and they are most commonly found in golden tones and yellow with shades of brown. The popular Chocolate Orchid is an Oncidium, which got its name not from its color but for its fragrance.

Paphiopedelium Orchids: This orchid, also known as the "Lady Slipper," is often identified by the unique shape of the flower petals. These beauties come from a huge area in the Old World, including India and China through Indonesia and the Philippines to New Guinea. Colors range from white to brilliant red, with everything in between. The Lady Slipper grows glossy foliage and large blooms that can last for months, making this orchid a favorite among many.

Miltonia Orchids: Miltonias are warm-growing orchids which come from Brazil. The flowers vary in colors - red, white, yellow and pink with different colored markings. The "Pansy Orchid" is one of the most fragrant of the orchids, making it a favorite for growing at home.

No matter what your orchid preference, this flower offers something for everyone. With a huge range of colors and shapes, and a history that transcends continents and time, it's no wonder a beautiful orchid can capture your eye, and bring you a feeling of Zen. Visit the Sky Dome at Reptile Gardens, and be transported to a world of lush and exotic orchids, anytime!



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