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What is so special about the Orchidaceae?

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  • Essay length: 2821 words
  • Submitted: 11/07/2002
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GCSE Living Things in their Environment

The first 200 words of this essay...

What is so special about the Orchidaceae?

Orchids have captured man's interest since the dawn of time. They display diversity unparalleled within the plant kingdom and are regarded as the most complex plants, both in structure and function. Orchids are spread throughout the whole world, from the Arctic to the Antarctic and every habitat in-between. There are about 35,000 species over 500-600 genera, making them the largest family of the angiosperms, in fact, 1/7th of the total number of angiosperm species belong to this family. The name "orchid" comes from the Greek philosopher Theophrastus, the father of botany, who commented on how the unusual paired roots of a plant looked like a pair of testicles or in Greek "orchis". Interestingly it was thought that the flower was able to "invoke Venus" and allow the parents to choose the sex of their child, a practice that continued into the middle ages.

The characteristics and relative importance may not be apparent at first, they are herbaceous perennials, like many other plants, but their diversity comes not from one specific characteristic but from a whole range that integrates into the plants form and function.

Orchids, as stated before, are

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