Recognizing an orchid

The flowers of wild orchids growing in Luxembourg usually cannot compete in size and colorfulness with those of the commonly-known cultivated orchids or tropical species. Nevertheless, they show the same 3-fold structure.

The three outer sepals are mostly similar, the middle of the three inner petals is enlarged and forms the often conspiciously shaped lip.

By rotating the flowers 180°, the lip, which points upward in bud, is directed downward and forward.

The stamens form a column together with the pistil.

The pollen is clumped into pollinia, which are dispersed as a whole by the pollinators.

Orchids form capsules with very large quantities of microscopic seeds without nutritive tissue.

They depend on mycorrhizal fungi for germination.

Other typical characteristics of orchids include an erect, unbranched habit,

undivided oblong or oval leaves with parallel leaf veins,

and underground storage organs, either paired root tubers

or sparsely branched rhizomes.