Orchid Names

Within the Plant Kingdom, plants having fundamental similarities are arranged together in groups called FAMILIES. Orchids are in the family called Orchidacae. Within each family plants with still greater degrees of similarity are grouped together in GENERA, the singular form is GENUS. Within each genus, plants that are identical except for minor variations are grouped together in species. The genus and species names are underlined or italicized.

Every orchid has a scientific name consisting of two parts, somewhat as person might be named "John Smith". However, with plants it would be written as "Smith john". Thus, the genus comes first then the individual name which is not capitalized. Each species in the same genus has a different species name. Botanical names are usually derived from Greek or Latin and, as a result, pronunciation is sometimes difficult. The following guide may help you pronounce the names of various common genera you see in the show.



A Latinized name in honor of William Cattley



Greek meaning boat shaped



Greek meaning "tree living"



Greek meaning "upon tree"



One of the vestal virgins



Greek meaning pad on the flower lip



Greek for "slipper of Aphrodite"



Greek meaning "moth like"



Name refers to the toothed crest on the lip

Up until now we have been discussing only orchid genera and species as found in nature. Hybrids are made by crossing different species in the same genus or species in different genera. When species from two different genera are crossed we make up bi-generic names consisting of the parents generic name and a common name (not a species name). For example, when Laelia pumila is crossed with Cattleya walkeriana the offspring are called "Laeliiocattleya Mini Purple" which is usually shortened to "Lc. Mini Purple". The common name differs from the scientific name in that they are capitalized, and not based on Greek or Latin. If mini Purple were then crossed to another genus, such as Brassavola, it would be a tri-generic cross called "Brassolaeliocattleya", or "Blc." or short. Thus for complex hybrids, names are often shortened but they still allow you to know in general terms the background of the hybrid. Each hybrid that receives a common name you can trace the various crosses made to produce the plant. Keeping track of both scientific and registered common names in the hybridization of orchids has allowed us to follow the behavior of genetic material and develop flowers with different colors, shape, size, and blooming season.

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