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Wild orchid species are classified into many botanical groups, or alliances. Although most of the more familiar ones are tropical, there are also many native orchids which can be found growing wild in the Ottawa area. Often, the native orchids tend to be rather inconspicuous and are easily overlooked, but some of them can be quite spectacular. For example, an area known as Purdon Fen (near Lanark, about 60km west of Ottawa) is home to over 16,000 plants of the aptly named "Showy Lady's Slipper" (botanical name cypripedium reginae). When these are in bloom (in mid June), they make an unforgettable sight!

The Ottawa Orchid Society is taking a special interest in Purdon Fen, and is actively helping with conservation work there.

Showy Lady's Slipper Orchids growing in Purdon Fen

 

Most of the orchids grown commercially today are hybrids, produced by crossing two or more species. Often, these hybrid plants can be selected to exhibit desirable tendencies from each parent, making the hybrid plant easier to grow, more compact for indoor growing, more tolerant of varying conditions, and of course with larger, more colourful flowers.

 

Some of the tropical orchid alliances are shown in the photos below:

 

(Click the images to see a larger version.)

 

 

 

Phalaenopsis

("Phals"), the so-called "moth orchids"

Paphiopedilum

("Paphs"), the "slipper orchids"

 

Cymbidium

(often used for corsages)

Cattleya

(also sometimes used for corsages)

Dendrobium

(often used as cut flowers for table arrangements. Pink in this photo.)

Miltonia

(sometimes called "pansy orchids")

Oncidium

(the "dancing lady")

Odontoglossum

 

Angraecum

 

Masdevallia

Vanda

Brassia

Coryanthes

The “bucket orchid”

Epidendrum

Phragmipedium