Orchidaceae family


Plant Group




All orchids have certain distinguishing features. The flower has three sepals (the calyx) and three petals (the corolla). There is a dorsal and two lateral sepals. In the corolla, the middle petal is usually modified to form the labellum, which is often ornately decorated with small glands (calli), this is usually the dominant feature that attracts insects for pollination. The reproductive organs, stamens and style, are fused to form a column.

Image of Diuris orientis Image: Gill Brown



Species are divided into two groups: small-flowered with four of the sepals and petals projecting forward like fingers (fairy or finger orchids) and larger-flowered suffused with red, thread-like sepals and petals (spider orchids). These species have a single leaf, usually hairy. Most are single-flowered.


Sun-orchids have a solitary, erect, channelled leaf sheathing at the base of the stem and 1-2 leafy stem bracts. The flowers are simple and all perianth segments similar in appearance. Identification is made through the column which varies considerably.