Thousands of species
There are more than 25,000 documented orchid species throughout the world, with hundreds more being discovered each year. This means the number of orchid species on the planet is four times the number of birds and four times the number of mammals!
Orchids can be found throughout the world, and can survive in different kind of habitats. Most species live in tropical rainforests, but they can also be found close to the Arctic Circle.
Seeds like dust
There can be up to three million seeds in a single orchid seedpod. You’ll never see them though, they are the size of a speck of dust and are only visible under a microscope. Part of the reason for their small size is that they lack an endosperm to provide the nutrients needed to germinate. This means they can only germinate and grow when they come into contact with the right kind of fungus.
Good enough to eat
Probably the best known type of orchid is Vanilla planifolia, the popular vanilla food flavouring is extracted from its pods. The vanilla planifolia is the only commercially grown orchid crop.
Around the world
Varies depending on species
Varies from a few milimetres to a few metres
|IUCN conservation status
Varies for different species – learn more
Many species of orchid are disapearing or threatened with extinction. For example 99% of Asian slipper orchids are threatened. The causes include habitat fragmentation and destruction, deforestation and illegal logging. An additional huge concern is that people are collecting these species from the wild for regional and international trade – and although this trade is illegal the rules are often not enforced.