Native: a genus of 52 species distributed in tropical and subtropical Asia (such as northern India, China, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Borneo) and northern Australia; larger flowered species grow at high altitudes with cooler nights; can thrive in temperate conditions
Type: either epiphytic, lithophytic or terrestrial
Size: each flower can have a diameter of 5 to 10 cm, according to the species
Flowering: blooms during the winter, and each plant can have up to fifteen or more flowers; flowers have waxy texture and last about ten weeks
Colors: fantastic range of colors include white, green, yellowish-green, cream, yellow, brown, pink, orange and red and black (and there may be markings of other color shades at the same time), but not blue
Flowering stem: basal — each mature pseudobulb usually produces one or two inflorescences from leaf axils near the base; in some species, the inflorescences arise from the leaf axils near the apex of the pseudobulb
Growth pattern: sympodial; grows to a height of 60 cm and the racemes as high as 90 cm
Pseudobulb: raceme grows from base of most recent pseudobulb; pseudobulbs contain nutrients and water for drier periods
Roots: Epiphyte: thick roots which are covered in a spongy white velamen and have only a thin core of vascular tissue;
Terrestrial: soft, porous and spongy;
Lithophyte: grows on rocks and forms roots similar to the epiphytic variety
Known for: popular in floral arrangements and corsages for its beautiful flowers; Boat Orchid; tolerant of a wide range of temperatures
History: first described by Olof Swartz in 1799; has been cultivated for thousands of years, especially in China; became popular in Europe during Victorian era

The flowers comprise three sepals, two free petals and a three-lobed lip or labellum which is hinged at the base of the column.


There is usually a callus of two distinct ridges along the upper surface of the lip. The anther contains two pollinia or four pollinia fused in two pairs.

In order for an insect to obtain access to the flower’s anther and pollen masses, it dislodges the anther-cap and the cap will fall away to reveal the flower's pollen masses (pollinia).

Pollen packages are sticky, and when an insect comes into contact with one of them, all or part of the pollen mass adheres to a leg or part of its body.