An orchid at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History «Orchids of Latin America» exhibit, referred to as a «Jungle Monarch.»

(Image: © Miriam Kramer)

WASHINGTON — The orchid genus is old, diverse and widespread. They grow naturally around the globe and are a favorite plant among horticulturists.

A fresh exhibition here, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, displays of the very most popular and interesting species of orchids from Latin America.

Orchids aren’t only prolific, they’re unique, Tom Mirenda, an orchid expert and curator of the exhibition told OurAmazingPlanet whenever we visited. Until April 26 The exhibition is on view.

Listed below are five interesting facts you might not have known about probably the most popular flowers in the world:

1. There are a lot more than 25,000 documented species of orchid, each day and scientists have found more.

The family Orchidacea houses a lot more than 25,000 flower species, Mirenda said. Scientists suspect that we now have more species in the topical regions of the global world, and horticulturalists hybridize the flower to create new species that wouldn’t occur in nature, and giving rise for some of the very most popular types of the plant around. [Photos: Orchids of Latin America]

2. Orchids have a symmetry similar to human faces.

A lot of the reason why orchids are so widespread is thanks partly to humans’ affinity for and desire to grow them. Mirenda thinks that the symmetry of the flower could have a whole lot related to why individuals are so keen on orchids. An orchid has bilateral symmetry — such as a human face — so if a line is drawn vertically down the center of the flower, both halves are mirror images of every other.

«When someone talks about an orchid, it talks about you back,» said Mirenda.

3. Orchids are masters of deception.

Orchids deceive insects into pollinating them, Mirenda said. The reproductive elements of many orchid flowers are shaped and colored to appear to be the type of insect they desire to attract. The insect is interested Once, the orchid’s pollen sticks to the bug until it flies off to find another orchid that it mistakes for a mate.

4. Scientists found fossilized orchid pollen on the relative back of a bee.

Pollen from a historical orchid was on the back of a bee encased in amber, as detailed in a 2007 study in the journal Nature. The fossil was dated to around 10 million or 15 million years back, but Mirenda suspects that the orchid family is older far. Some research even dates some species of orchid to 120 million years back around, prior to the continents put into their current form.

Two species of orchids whose natural habitats are a large number of miles apart are actually closely related. Scientists believe the plants probably had a common ancestor before these were separated by continental drift, Mirenda said.

5. Vanilla is a species of orchid.

Perhaps probably the most popular species of orchids, the «flat leafed» vanilla plant can be probably the most widespread. Horticulturalists around Latin America cultivate the plant because of its flavorful charms, Mirenda said.

Follow OurAmazingPlanet @OAPlanet, Facebook and Google+. Initial article at LiveScience’s OurAmazingPlanet.

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