Orchids are the largest family of flowering plants, with about 20,000 species in 800 genera divided distributed worldwide. They are a cosmopolitan family, which is distributed from within the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego and the islands south of Australia. They are absent only in true deserts and the poles. They are most diverse in tropical regions, where they are often epiphytes.
Regarding epiphytic orchids, it is said that can become eternal. In fact, in nature, their survival is linked to the life of the tree that sustains them. Plants collected in the mid-nineteenth century that are still growing and flourishing in many collections are known.
No plant family has a range of flowers so varied. The flowers are highly specialized in relation to their pollinators. They are well known structural variations that facilitate pollination by a certain species of insect, bird or bat.
Orchids are generally producing nectar, a substance used as a reward to pollinators. Nectaries are variable in position and type. For example, they are on the spur of the lip, or the apexes of the sepals, or in the inner walls of the gynoecium. Species that do not produce nectar, are self-pollinating or apomictic, ie, not require pollinators to produce seeds.
The Aztecs used an orchid – vanilla – to enrich a thick drink made of cocoa, intended for nobles and warriors and was known by the name of xocoatl.
(Information extracted from the Wikipedia Spanish article which the English version is Orchidaceae)
Bulbophyllum minutissimum. The smallest.
Sobralia altissima. The highest.
Grammatophylly speciosum. The biggest.
Phragmipedium caudatum. Of the largest flower.
Cattleya. Delicate scent.
Bulbophyllum phalaenopsis. The worst stench.
Better than a thousand words are the orchids themselves to describe themselves and their beauty.