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Welcome to Our Orchid Glossary

If you have an Orchid term, not located here, Please Email us the term. We will find the definition for you.


 AB | C | DE | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

aerial root - Any root produced above the growing medium.

anther - The part of the stamen containing the pollen; the end of the column.

backbulb--- An old pseudobulb behind the part of a sympodial orchid that is actively growing. Although there may be no leaves the presence of undamaged "eyes" is a sign that growth is possible.

bifoliate -- Having two leaves.

bigeneric - A hybrid between two species of different genera.

blush, or a flush - - Refers to a different color overlay of the base color of a flower., i.e. a red blush

bract - Modified leaves on an inflorescence,


cane - An elongated psuedobulb, usually used when describing Dendrobiums or Epidendrums.

clone - Vegetative propagation from an individual plant.

column-- The central reproductive organ of the orchid flower, formed by the union of the stamens and pistils

column foot-- The extension of the base of the column, in some orchids, to which the lip is attached.

corolla-- The inner of the two series of floral segments, which are the sepals and petals. The term is rarely used in connection to Orchid flowers.

crock - Small pieces of broken clay flower pots, or other materials, placed in the bottom of a pot to aid in drainage.

cultivar - An cultivated plant and its vegetative propagations; a horticultural variety or strain.


digitate - Branches clustering from one point like fingers on a hand.

discolor - Having two-toned leaves, such as green above and purple below.

  epiphyte, epiphytic - An air plant; A plant which grows upon another plant, for support, but does not derive any nourishment from the host plant. Many of the orchids in cultivation are epiphytic in their natural habitats.

Ethylene - is a colorless, gaseous hormone produced by plants to regulate natural development and deterioration. However, when Orchids are exposed to external ethylene gas from vehicle exhaust fumes, cigarette smoke, and naturally ripening fruit, the results are often detrmental. Exposure of Orchids to ethylene often result in flower and flower bud blasting (drop), as well as leaf yellowing and leaf fall.

eye - The bud of a sympodial (many footed) orchid that will eventually develop into a new psuedobulb and flower.

fasciculate - Clustering habit. Offsets from the base form tight bunches.

floccose - Wooly or fuzzy.

flush, or blush - see blush above period.

foliar spray- Many minor nutrients and trace elements beneficial to growth are best absorbed through the stomata of an orchids leaves when mixed with water and sprayed on the plant.

formula - In regards to hybrids, the parents' name forming the hybrid. The names are connected by the multiplication sign X (by)


genus-- (pl. genera) A natural grouping of closely related species.

glabrous - Shiny and smooth, lacking hairs.

glaucous - A sea-green color, coated with a waxy powder.

globose - Rounded or spherical shape.

grex - All siblings of the same seed cross.


habitat--- The type of place, or environment, in which a Orchid normally grows.

herbarium sheet - A paper with a prepared and dried plant specimen used for identification.

hybrid - The result of a cross between two different species or hybrids.

hybrid swarm - A cross between two species that becomes fertile and breeds true, imitating a true species.


inflorescence - The flowering portion of a plant, including the scape

intergeneric hybrid--- A hybrid between members of two or more genera.


jointed - having nodes, or points of real or apparent divisions along the stem or psuedobulb.


keiki--- A Hawaiian word referring to a baby plant produced asexually by an orchid plant, usually used when referring to Dendrobiums, Phalaenopsis, or Vandaceous orchids.


lanceolate - Having a lance-like shape usually refers to leaves.

lead- An immature vegetative growth on a sympodial orchid that will develop into flower-producing structure.

lip- A modified petal of the orchid flower specialized to aid in pollination and different than the other petals.

lithophyte-An orchid that grows on rocks


mesic- Constantly moist.

meristem - The actively growing tissue of a plant, used for artificial cloning.

medium-- The material in which an orchid is container-grown, it may be organic such as fir bark or inorganic such as lava rock.

mericlone-- A plant derived from tissue culture that is identical to its parent.

monopodial -- Orchids which grow upward from a single stem producing leaves and flowers along that stem.

node--A joint on a stem or pseudobulb from which a leaf or growth originates.


offset - A vegetative division or lateral shoot. Synonym: keikei.

pachycaul - An abnormally thick-stemmed plant.

panicle -- An inflorescence with a main stem and branches, the flowers on the lower branches open earlier than the upper ones. A loosely branched inflorescence.

petal -- One of the segments of the corolla of a flower. In Orchids, one of the three petals is usually modified into a lip or labellum.

photosynthesis-- The process a plant uses to produce carbohydrates and sugar from water and carbon dioxide in the air using chlorophyl-containing cells exposed to light.

pseudobulb -- A thickened portion of the stem, resembling a bulb, of many orchids, and some bromeliads. The pseudobulb functions as a water and food storage device.

quadrigeneric-- Pertaining to four genera, primarily used to describe hybrids which contain genetic material from four different genera.

raceme-- An unbranched inflorescence of stalked flowers.

rhizome-- A root-bearing stem of sympodial orchids that progressively sends up leafy shoots.

rachis-- The central spine of an inflorescence.

reticulations-- A network of veins or lines on a leaf surface.


semi terete-- Applied to the hybrids between terete leaved and strap leaved Vandas.

sepal -- The outer segments of an Orchid flower

sheath -- A modified leaf that encloses and protects an emerging inflorescence or leaf. Normally dries and sloughs off, when inflorescence or leaf matures.

species -- A kind of plant that is distinct from other plants.

spike-- An unbranched inflorescence of unstalked flowers. A term sometimes used in place of "inflorescence"

stolon-- A branch that grows horizontally above the medium and produces roots and shoots at the nodes.

stomata-- The breathing pores on the surface of a plant's leaves

sympodial-- Orchids which grow laterally and produce leafy growths along a rhizome


terete - Curled from the edges to form a tapering cylinder.

terrestrial -- Growing on the ground and supported by soil.

tessellated - Having a checkered or mosaic pattern.

trichome - The scales or hairs which all bromeliads are absorbing organs. These also give plants such as Tillandsias their silvery or fuzzy look.

triploid - Having an extra set of chromosomes. Often causes gigantism and other genetic morphs.


unifoliate-- Having one leaf.


variegated - Having stripes, usually white, usually randomly up each leaf.

velamen -- The thick sponge-like covering of the roots of epiphytic orchids which helps prevent water loss and aids in absorption.

virus-- A type of infectious agent, much smaller than common microorganisms, several forms of which affect certain kinds of orchids.  --

Warm House--A greenhouse, intended for growing Orchids, in which the night temperature is maintained above 60 degrees F.

xeric - Adapted to arid conditions.


yellowing-- Yellowing of the top of a leaf usually indicates too much light. Yellowing of entire older leaf usually indicates sloughing off of the leaf. Yellowin spots on top of leaf usually indicates sucking insect on underside.


zgomorphic-- Able to be divided into two equal parts in only one plane, such as Orchid flowers are.

General FAQs | Cultural FAQs | Cultural Notes by Genus | Glossary of Orchid Terms  | Table of Orchid Genera

    In the world of flowering plants, the orchid family is the largest group. Numbering over 28,000 named species, orchids were once the hobby of the mega rich. With advancing technology, now everyone can enjoy the world wide popularity of Orchid growing. The incredible beauty and diversity of form and culture, captivate men and women of every walk of life.

    Each month, Camp Lot A Noise Tropicals receives a number of orchid-related questions. We try to answer all the question, based on our 40 years of Orchid growing. Sometimes, the answer eludes us. Then we call on our Orchid friends at Marie Selby Gardens. A botanical gardens, specializing in Orchids and other epiphytic plants. Helping Orchid enthusiasts enjoy the hobby is one of the goals of Camp Lot A Noise Tropicals. To that end, we have gathered frequently asked questions here in these pages. It may have already been asked, if so your answer will be immediately available.

If not, please drop us an email with your question, at We will try to find you an answer, which will be returned ASAP via email. Then your question and answer will be added to our ever growing FAQ database to help other enthusiasts.

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