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Phalaenopsis Orchids: The World's Most Popular Orchid Type

phalaenopsis-orchidsvia iStock

Do you know what’s the most popular orchid type in the world? You guessed it right.

It’s the phalaenopsis orchid. With its abundant blooms, resilient nature, and ability to thrive indoors, this orchid genus has become a favorite among orchid lovers and the go-to orchid plant for novices.

Phalaenopsis Orchids Facts 

With several orchid subfamilies, orchid tribes, orchid subtribes, orchid genera, and probably a thousand different species and hybrids, orchids can be dizzyingly confusing. But since we’re talking specifically about phalaenopsis orchids, perhaps we can pare down the information overload a little bit.

Here are the basics about moth orchids:

  • Botanical name: Phalaenopsis (pronounced /fælᵻˈnɒpsɪs/)
  • Common name: Moth orchids
  • Abbreviation: Phal
  • Family: Orchidaceae
  • Subfamily: Epidendroideae
  • Tribe: Vandeae
  • Subtribe: Aeridinae Sarcantheae
  • Blooming season: All year round
  • Type according to growing behavior: Monopodial, meaning a single-stem orchid that grows in one direction
  • Type according to habitat: Some phals are epiphytes (orchids that grow on top of another plant or tree barks) while some can be litophytes (orchids that stick themselves to rock surfaces).

Phalaenopsis Orchid Origin And History

One of the many genera under the Orchidaceae family, the phalaenopsis orchid genus was first identified by well-known German-Dutch botanist and entomologist, Dr. Karl Ludwig Blume, in 1825.

Blume derived the orchid’s name from the Greek word “phalaina,” which translates to “a moth,” and opsis, meaning “appearance,” because Dr. Blume was reminded of the flying white moths he had seen in tropical jungles. Some people also call these orchids “phals” for short.

    Phalaenopsis Orchids Species vs. Hybrids

    spotted-beauty-phalaenopsis-orchid

    Spotted Beauty Orchid

    The first orchid plant was sent to Europe all the way from Manila by for cultivation by natural history collector, Hugh Cuming, in 1837. Since then countless species and hybrids have been established through the expertise of various botanists and experts. 

    What’s the difference between orchid species and orchid hybrids?

    • Orchid species refer to orchids found in the wild or in their natural habitat)
    • Orchid hybrids – term used for a new orchid type produced as a result of two orchid species. However, there are also some phalaenopsis orchid hybrids that can be found in nature. These hybrids are identified with the letter “x” before their name.

    Phalaenopsis Orchids Sections and Species

    Phalaenopsis orchids are divided into several categories or sections, and under them are a wide array of various species and hybrids. These include:

    Phalaenopsis

    • Phalaenopsis amabilis
    • Phalaenopsis aphrodite
    • Phalaenopsis philippinensis
    • Phalaenopsis sanderiana
    • Phalaenopsis schilleriana
    • Phalaenopsis stuartiana

    tropical-escape-phalaenopsis-orchidsTropical Escape Orchids

    Stauroglotttis

    • Phalaenopsis celebensis
    • Phalaenopsis equesteris
    • Phalaenopsis lindenii

    Aphyllae

    • Phalaenopsis braceana
    • Phalaenopsis hainanensis
    • Phalaenopsis honghenensis
    • Phalaenopsis stobartiana
    • Phalaenopsis natmataungensis
    • Phalaenopsis wilsonii
    • Phalaenopsis taenialis

    Proboscidioides

    • Phalaenopsis lowii

    Parishianae

    • Phalaenopsis appendiculata
    • Phalaenopsis gibbosa
    • Phalaenopsis lobbii
    • Phalaenopsis malipoensis
    • Phalaenopsis mysorensis
    • Phalaenopsis parishii
    • Phalaenopsis thailandica

    Polychilos

    • Phalaenopsis cormu-cervi
    • Phalaenopsis lamelligera
    • Phalaenopsis mannii
    • Phalaenopsis pantherina
    • Phalaenopsis thalebanii

     

    Fuscatae

    • Phalaenopsis cochlearis
    • Phalaenopsis kunstleri
    • Phalaenopsis fuscata
    • Phalaenopsis viridis

    Amboinensis

    • Phalaenopsis amboinensis
    • Phalaenopsis doweryensis
    • Phalaenopsis floresensis
    • Phalaenopsis gigantea
    • Phalaenopsis javanica
    • Phalaenopsis micholitzii
    • Phalaenopsis robinsonii
    • Phalaenopsis venosa

    Zebrinae| Sous-Section Lueddemannianae

    • Phalaenopsis bellina
    • Phalaenopsis fasciata
    • Phalaenopsis fimbriata
    • Phalaenopsis lueddemanniana
    • Phalaenopsis hieroglyphica
    • Phalaenopsis pulchra
    • Phalaenopsis reichenbachiana
    • Phalaenopsis violacea

    Zebrinae| Sous-Section Zebrinae

    • Phalaenopsis bastianii
    • Phalaenopsis corningiana
    • Phalaenopsis inscriptiosinensis
    • Phalaenopsis speciosa
    • Phalaenopsis sumatrana
    • Phalaenopsis tetraspis

    Zebrinae|Sous-Section Hirsutae

    • Phalaenopsis mariae
    • Phalaenopsis pallens

    Zebrinae|Sous-Section Glabrae

    • Phalaenopsis maculata
    • Phalaenopsis modesta

    Phalaenopsis Orchids in Los Angeles

    scenery-orchid-view-phalaenopsisScenery Orchid View

    Phalaenopsis orchids are native in different tropical countries throughout southeast Asia, particularly in the islands of Palawan and Zamboanga in the Philippines, in the Himalayas, and in Australia.

    In the United States, the Smithsonian Gardens is home to rich collection of nearly 9,000 live orchid plants. Many parks and botanical gardens also display gorgeous orchid species for public viewing, such as the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, Descanso Gardens, and South Botanic Garden.

    However, if you want your own phalaenopsis orchid blooming for your personal viewing pleasure, you can also check out Orchid Republic’s stunning orchid arrangement collection. Located conveniently in the heart of Studio City, Orchid Republic offers flower delivery anywhere in Los Angeles and Orange County.

     

    Sources:

    • American Orchid Society: http://www.aos.org/orchids/additional-resources/phalaenopsis-the-genus.aspx
    • Phalaenopsis Orchids Species and Hybrids: http://www.phals.net/Definitions_e.html
    • Royal Horticultural Society: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=388

     



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