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Orchids In Our Forests
Orchids In Our Forests

Video: Orchids In Our Forests

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Exquisite flower - orchid

Orchids of the North
Orchids of the North

Orchid Lady's slipper

What do most people associate with the jungle? These are vines, palms, monkeys and … orchids. Beautiful tropical orchids are a symbol of bliss and luxury, the pinnacle of sophistication and splendor.

For the most part, tropical orchids are epiphytes, that is, they grow not on the ground, but on the branches, in the forks of the trunks, on the projections of the bark, in the crevices where dust, fallen leaves and other ingredients that create a substrate are collected.

Orchids often form aerial roots that can extract the necessary trace elements and water from the very humid air of the jungle.

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There is a misconception that epiphytic orchids parasitize on host trees, like mistletoe. But this is not so, plants use them as a support and, as it were, a pot with soil. This type of cohabitation is called saprophytic.

The Orchid family is one of the largest in the plant kingdom. It includes about 30 thousand species. Orchids are widespread everywhere, except for Antarctica. The tropics and humid equatorial forests of the New and Old Worlds are distinguished by the greatest species diversity of orchids. Here, such families known in the world of floriculture as Cymbidium, Dendrobium, Wanda, Cattleya, Vanilla and others grow.

But temperate and middle latitudes are not deprived of orchids. On the territory of the former USSR, there are 143 species of orchids. Our orchids differ from their southern sisters in that they are all terrestrial plants that take root in the ground.

Orchids have the smallest seeds in the world of angiosperms. The seed size in some species is only 0.01 mm. But there are a lot of them - 6-20 thousand in one box. They are carried by the wind. The highly porous shell, which occupies up to 90% of the seed size, helps a lot in this.

One of the features of orchid seed is that it contains virtually no nutrients. The endosperm is usually reduced. There are very few nutrients in the embryo, which is not divided, like in most plants, into a stalk and a root. In order to germinate, the orchid seed, when it enters the ground, must enter into symbiosis with a certain type of fungus (it is individual for each type of orchid). This phenomenon is called mycorrhiza. The fungus hyphae supply the seed with carbohydrates, vitamins and other substances that the developing body needs.

Orchids of the North
Orchids of the North

Pollenhead, cephalantera rubra (L.) Rich

After germination, the development of the orchid embryo occurs in a very peculiar way. First, a specific structure is formed - protocorm, which is a spherical body covered with microscopic hairs 2 mm in diameter. 1, and later 2-3 scaly leaves are laid on it. Protokorm leads an underground lifestyle from 2 to 11 years; in different species in different ways. Then it turns into a rhizome - mycorrhiza, from which the first green leaf appears on the surface.

Much faster, as practice shows, is the development of orchids in culture, in specially prepared rich soil of botanical scientific gardens. Almost simultaneously with the first leaf, the first adventitious root, or nodule in tuberous species, is laid. From the moment the first leaf appears to flowering, it takes from 3 to 8 years, depending on the species.

Some species can pass into a state of secondary dormancy, that is, under unfavorable conditions, they hide under the ground, where they feed on fungi. In some populations, up to 25% of plants switch to this way of life. A case is known when one red dusthead hid underground for 20 years after the area on which it grew sharply darkened. And as soon as the site became light again, the orchid reappeared on the surface.

In artificial conditions, orchids can be propagated vegetatively. If a cut is made on a nodule, 2-3 or more young nodules will appear in this place. Similar experiments were carried out in Kiev, in the Central Botanical Garden of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, where young nodules appeared 7 days after cutting. Most of the nodules in this way - 18 pieces - are produced by the fingerlings.

Rhizome orchids can also vegetatively reproduce, not only in culture, but also in nature. These are shoes, sleepers, hiding places and others. They develop adventitious buds, which give rise to rhizome offspring, giving a new plant in the 3rd year. Some chlorophyll-free orchids, for example, the common nest, can also reproduce.

Most of our orchids have leaves that die off for the winter, but there are also evergreen species, such as creeping goodayera.

Orchids of the North
Orchids of the North

Baltic fingernail orchid (Dactylorhiza baltica)

Orchids bloom in late spring and summer. The duration of flowering varies from species to species: from several days to 1.5 months. Orchid flower, like most monocots, consists of 6 perianth petals, it is pronouncedly irregular (zygomorphic). The petals (although it is wrong to call them that, it would be correct to say: the perianth lobes) are located in two circles. The outer ones are smaller than the inner ones, and are often not so brightly colored. The middle inner lobe forms the so-called lip. The stamens grow together into one pollinarium, and the gynoecium consists of three incompletely accrete carpels. Lower ovary.

The seeds of most orchids ripen in August - September, the fruit is a coenocarp capsule.

In the course of evolution, some orchids have developed very interesting pollination adaptations. For example, Venus has a shoe. The insect, attracted by tasty nectaries, gets inside the shoe-like lip. It cannot get out of here in reverse, it turns around, sees discolored areas, sliding along the pistil, climbs to them, from here it sees a real exit, and, squeezing into it, is smeared with pollen.

The flowers of some orchids, for example, Ophris insect-bearing or gadfly, take the form of insects. And insects rush at them, thinking that these are their sexual partners.

Among the orchids growing in the European part of the former USSR, there are both monospecific genera and multi-species. Among monospecies: aceras, anacamptis, calypso, comperia, neotiante. The most common in nature belong to polyspecies: dremlik, lyubka, slipper, orchis, fingernail, pollen head and others.

Many of our orchids are listed in the Red Book of both Russia and other countries. Collecting them is prohibited. And if the people who collect them in order to grow and multiply in the personal plot can still be somehow understood, then those who pick flowers in order to throw them into the trash in two days cannot be understood or justified.

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northern orchids
northern orchids

Lyubka green-flowered

In fact, our cultured wild orchid species are an incredibly sophisticated addition to flower gardens and rockeries. We can say that they give a special unspoken charm. But it should be noted that it is not easy to care for orchids and grow them, since these plants are very demanding on environmental conditions.

When creating rocky gardens and landscape compositions, phleone (classic alpine slide, rocks, mountain valley), slipper (ravine, water cascade, Japanese garden), dremlik (water cascade, swamp), orchis (mountain meadow, Japanese garden, ravine), finger-root (ravine, water cascade, alpine meadow) and others.

Most of our orchids can be conditionally divided into two classes - forest and meadow. Based on this, one can judge their adherence to certain environmental conditions. For example, the hiding place, gudayera and lyubka (night violet) are forest plants and are more fond of shaded areas. For them, diffused lighting is optimal. But meadow orchids - orchis, fingernail and kokushnik - are used to open areas, and they need a lot of light.

It should be noted that some orchid species are of medical importance. For example, salep is prepared from orchis tubers - a remedy for stomach disorders and an excellent biostimulant.

When planting plants of one type or another in open ground, it is necessary to take into account the individual characteristics of each. It is best to take the soil in the place of natural growth of this species, so that the mushrooms necessary for this orchid are in it. If this is not possible, then be sure to consult with a specialist.

All our orchids, to one degree or another, are moisture-loving plants (meso - hygrophilous). Only the phleone loves arid conditions, but in our country this species is found only in culture, its homeland is Tibet.

If you do not have sufficient (and considerable) experience in growing orchids, then you should not dig up plants in nature as planting material. Due to improperly selected conditions and care, they are likely to die. It is best to buy planting material from specialty stores or botanical gardens. There you can also get comprehensive advice on this issue.

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