Friday, April 11, 2008

Dendrobium: Family Orchidaceae's tree of life

Dendrobium painting
I.V. Passmoore, Dendrobium Orchid (n.d.)
Dendrobium refers to a large genus of tropical orchids comprising roughly 1200 species. The term dendrobium combines the Greek words δεντρο (tree) and βίος (life). These orchids range throughout much of southern and eastern Asia, the Philippines, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, and New Zealand. Their diverse habitats span the high Himalayas, lowland tropical forests, and the Australian desert.

Most dendrobium species are epiphytic and grow on other plants. Others are lithophytic and dwell on rocks. After a long period of winter dormancy, many Dendrobium orchids issue new shoots from pseudobulbs.

As the panorama below demonstrates, this diverse genus has been cultivated to cover all colors of the rainbow and is much beloved by orchid collectors.



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