While still not completely agreed by taxonomists and professional botanists the total number of flowering plant species on earth has been estimated to be 290,000 to 350,000. Orchids are the second largest family of flowering plants with over 30,000 documented and identified species; more are discovered every year. Amazingly, approximately 10% of all species of flowering plants on Earth are orchids! In addition hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions of other orchids exist as hybrids bred from parent species.
Orchids have survived on our planet for millions of years and, with the exception of Antarctica, have spread to every continent. They have evolved in complex and fascinating ways in order to attract specific pollinators (insects, birds, bats, etc.), acquire nutrient, avail themselves of sunlight, and survive extremes of temperature and humidity. For the collector with a passion for exhaustion and with unrealistic and unlimited resources of time, money, and space all one can hope to attain is a representative sample of worldwide biodiversity.
Enthusiasts new to collecting orchids often focus on those species most readily attainable, namely the oncidiums, phalaenopsis, and cymbidiums.
Orchids obtained from local sources such as supermarkets, home stores, flower markets, etc. will most likely be hybrids from these species. The hybrids have been artificially created by crossing two or more species plants or mass produced using modern cloning techniques.
These hybrids, as opposed to their species parents, often have larger and more colorful, long lasting blooms that make them desirable for the collector or one in search of a plant or two to decorate the dining room table. As such, hybrids make up the vast majority of orchid plants sold in the United States.
When we started RainCoast Orchids we, too, acquired many hybrid plants due to their ready availability and modest cost. Lessons learned while maintaining this collection have seen application as we have expanded our interest to the less common plants from around the world. Because of the vast number of orchid species/ hybrids we recognized early on the realities of resource limitations. We have concentrated our efforts on a few species and select hybrids in the bulbophyllum, vanda, catasetum, pathiopedilum and cattleya families.
Plants in the RainCoast Orchids species collection are acquired from other collectors or from selected professional sources. The challenge to provide an environment for these plants such that they grow, flourish and bloom consumes considerable intellectual energy but is often rewarded with spectacular flower displays.
Here are some photos of flowers from our species and select hybrid collection. As more plants bloom, pictures of other flowers will be added to an updated website. Should you have any questions or comments about these plants please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.