Native: a genus of 113 species from Costa Rica to tropical South America
Type: epiphytes, or air plants;
grows on trees or rocks
Size: flowers vary from 5 cm to 15 cm or more
Colors: all colors except true blue and black
Flowering stem: apical; it grows from the apex of the main stem; each stalk originates from a pseudobulb; number of flowers varies – one or two, or sometimes up to ten
Growth pattern: sympodial; grows laterally rather than vertically, following the surface of its support
Pseudobulb: has developed water-storage organs, called pseudobulbs which contain nutrients and water for drier periods
Roots: large, fleshy roots covered with a spongy, water-retentive velamen has the function to absorb humidity
Known for: large, showy flowers – the idealized picture we have of orchids; Queen of the Orchids; a conspicuous labellum, featuring various markings and specks and an often frilly margin
History: Genus was named in 1824 by John Lindley after Sir William Cattley who received and successfully cultivated specimens of Cattleya labiata that were used as packing material in a shipment of other orchids made by William Swainson.

The typical flower has three rather narrow sepals and three usually broader petals: two petals are similar to each other, and the third is the quite different conspicuous lip or labellum, featuring various markings and specks and an often frilly margin.