Orchids for the People
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aerial root — Any root produced and growing above the potting medium.
alba — A white form of an orchid flower.
alliance — A tribe or group of related genera. Among orchids many of these genera can crossbreed with other genera.
AM — Award of Merit.
AOS — American Orchid Society.
backbulb —An older pseudobulb (usually leafless) that is still alive and can be used for propagating a new plant. Backbulbs are additional storage of water and nutrition for the plant.
CBR — Certificate of Botanical Recognition. An AOS award given only once to an orchid species when it is first displayed in bloom.
CCM — Certificate of Cultural Merit. The CCM is awarded to the exhibitor of a specimen plant of robust health and appearance with an unusually large number of flowers. The plant must have been in the care of the exhibitor for al least six months immediately
cleistogamous — Term used to describe a flower that self ponlinates.
clone — Orchid plant reproduced from a single existing orchid plant (divisions, meristem propagation, etc), rather than sexual reproduction by growing seeds. A clone contains the same DNA as the original plant; designated by single quotes around its name.
column — The fused sexual organ of an orchid flower, found atop the lip.
community pot — Many tiny seedlings planted together in a single container before they are individually repotted.
compot — Term short for “community pot.”
cool temperature — Denotes a temperature range for growing orchids who in nature live 5800 feet above sea level. 50° - 75° F / 10° - 23.9° C. Winter lows around 50°F/10°C, and Summer highs around 80°F/26.6° C.
cross — The progeny that result from transferring pollen from one plant to the flower of another; the act itself.
cultivar — In orchids, a specific plant grown from a single seed; designated by single quotes around its name.
deciduous — Loss of leaves or other frowths upon maturity or at the end of a growing season, with regrowth after a dormant rest.
division — Making new plants from old by cutting the rhizome of a sympodial orchid into pieces containing pseudobulbs and rhizome or by cutting off the top half of a stem of a vinelike orchid.
dormancy — A rest period during which no vegetative growth occurs, often following a growth period and/or the loss of leaves or other growths; may require cooler temperatures and less water.
dorsal sepal — In orchids, the uppermost “petal” of a flower.
epiphyte, epiphytic — A plant which naturally grows upon another plant but its nutrients are not taken from the supporting host but are derived instead from rain, air, and available debris. Approximately 73% of orchids growing in the wild are epiphytes.
flask — A clear container used in the laboratory germination of orchid seeds, or micropropagated orchid seedlings (we use polypropylene “deli containers” in our lab).
floriferous — A term used to describe a plant that flowers freely (and fun to say!)
flower spike — A common term for any various types of flower inflorescence.
footcandle — A measure of light useful in determining intensity of light for growing orchids; the illumination produced by a candle at a distance of one foot.
genus (pl. genera) — A natural grouping of closely related species.
growths — Any new shoots that emerge, whether they be pseudobulb, rhizome, leaf, stem, inflorescence, or root.
habitat — The place in nature that the plant normally grows.
hybrid — The offspring of a cross between two different species (a primary hybrid), or of a species and a hybrid, or of two hybrids (a complex hybrid).
in vitro — In an artificial environment.
inflorescence — The flowering portion of a plant.
intergeneric hybrid — A hybrid between members of two or more genera.
intermediate temperature — Denotes a temperature range for growing orchids who in nature live between 3300 to 5800 feet above sea level. 60º-80°F/15.5°-26.6°C. Winter lows of 58°-62°F/14.4°-16.6°C and Summer highs in low 80s°F/27° C
JC (Judges’ Commendation) — Award given by the American Orchid Society for special plant and/or flower characteristics.
keiki — A Hawaiian word referring to a plantlet produced asexually by an orchid plant on the inflorescence or cane. When the keiki has developed sufficient roots, it may be detached and grown separately.
lateral sepal — the two lowermost sepals that extend to the sides, of an orchid flower, versus the topmost dorsal sepal
lead — An immature vegetative growth that will develop into flower-producing structure.
lip — The orchid labellum: A modified petal of the orchid flower specialized to aid in pollination and different than the other petals.
lithophyte — An orchid that grows on rocks.
medium (pl. mediums or media) — The material in which an orchid is container-grown, it may be organic such as fir bark or inorganic such as lava rock. Our potting of choice for most orchids is long-strand coconut fiber.
mericlone — A plant derived from tissue culture that is identical to its parent.
meristem — The actively growing area of the plant from which mature tissues such as leaves, stems, flowers and roots originate.
micropropagation — Making new orchids by any of the laboratory techniques, including meristem tissue propagation and sterile seed culture.
monopodial — Orchids which grow upward from a single stem producing leaves and flowers along that stem (example phalaenopsis).
natural hybrid — A hybrid that occurs in the wild without the help of humans.
node — A distinct joint or notch on an inflorescence, stem, or pseudobulb from which a leaf, root or flower stem can emerge.
nomenclature — A system of naming.
nonresupinate — An orchid flower whose lip is positioned uppermost relative to the inflorescence axis (ex. Encyclia cochleata). The vast majority of orchid flowers are resupinate.
panicle — An inflorescence with a main stem and branches, the flowers on the lower branches open earlier than the upper ones (ex. Phalaenopsis).
peloric — An unusual condition where all three petals (instead of just one) attempt to fashion themselves into lip colors and/or shapes.
petal — In orchids, one of the three inner segments of the flower that are positioned between the three sepals. One of the petals is modified into the lip or lebellum.
pollinia — Waxy pollen clumps usually found in the anthers of most orchids. It is often yellow and found under the pollen cap of the column. We often describe pollina as little pollen saddle bags with a sticky foot pad.
polyploid — A plant with more than the normal two sets of chromosomes .
propagation — The act of producing more plants from an original, either through seeds, offshoots, or division.
pseudobulb — A thickened portion of the stem of many orchids functioning as a water and food storage device.
raceme — An unbranched inflorescence of stalked flowers. The separate flowers are attached by short equal stalks at equal distances along the central stem.
resupinate — An orchid flower whose lip is positioned lowermost relative to the inflorescence axis. The vast majority of orchid flowers are resupinate.
keiki — A Hawaiian word referring to a plantlet produced asexually by an orchid plant on the inflorescence or cane.
pollinia — Waxy pollen clumps usually found in the anthers of most orchids. It is often yellow and found under the pollen cap of the column. We often describe pollina as little pollen saddle bags with a cement foot.
rhizome — A root of an orchid.
RHS — Royal Horticultureal Society.
scape — An unbranched inflorescence with one flower (ex. Paphiopedilum superbiens).
seed — Orchid seed are by far the smallest in the flowering plant kingdom but to compensate for this they produce mass quantities. For example, Cymbidium has approximately 1.5 million, Maxillaria about 1.7 million and Cattleya up to 5 million seeds per seedpod.
seedling — An young orchid that has not produced blooms.
seedpod — The capsule bearing the seeds of an orchid.
sepal — One of the three outer parts of an orchid flower, one of which is usually topmost and known as the dorsal, the other two lower sepals being known as the laterals.
sheath — A modified leaf that encloses an emerging inflorescence or leaf.
species — A kind of plant that is distinct from other plants.
spike — Term often loosely used to refer to all flower inflorescences, but technically an unbranched flower stem with shortstalked or stalkless flowers.
stigma — The sticky area at the top of the column that receives the pollinia.
stolon — A branch that grows horizontally above the medium and produces roots and shoots at the nodes (ex. Bulbophyllum).
stomata — The breathing pores on the surface of a plant’s leaves.
sympodial — One of the two forms of orchid growth (the other is monopodial), New growth in sympodial orchids arises from the rhizome of the previous growth and each new growth is completely capable of bearing an inflorescence.
terrestrial — Growing on the ground and supported by soil.
tetraploid — A plant with four sets of chromosomes. A normal plant is diploid with two sets of chromosomes. Most modern complex orchids hybrids are tetraploid.
throat — The inner portion of a tubular orchid lip.
tissue culture — Artificial propagation of plants via laboratory mericloning.
unifoliate — Having one leaf.
vandaceous — Descriptive word for any large monopodial orchid, particularly used for Vanda and closely related orchids.
variety — A subdivision of a species that groups plants with a distinct form that is passed along to the progeny.
velamen — The thick sponge-like covering of the roots of epiphytic orchids which helps prevent water loss and aids in absorption.
warm temperature — Denotes a temperature range for growing orchids who in nature live between 3300 to 5800 feet above sea level. 60º-80°F/15.5°-26.6°C. Winter lows of 58°-62°F/14.4°-16.6°C and Summer highs in low 80s°F/27° C
whorl — Three or more leaves, flowers or branches arranged in a circle at one point around the main stem.
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