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Orchids 101: The biology behind these elegant flowers

By: Anna Norris on July 13, 2016, 11:31 a.m.
Phalaenopsis orchids

Photo: Anna Norris

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One big happy family

With more than 20,000 species (around four times more species than mammals!) and more than 800 genera, orchids are an incredibly diverse and complex family of plants. For example, did you know that one orchid seedpod can contain as many as 3 million seeds? Or that some orchids can live for 100 years? Undoubtedly you've seen these potted flowers, like the popular Phalaenopsis orchids shown here. But there's much more to know about these botanical beauties.

Editor's note: This gallery was updated with new information since its original publication date in January 2014.