Logan and District Orchid Society Inc.  -  Orchid Genera

Thelymitra ixioides

Spotted Sun Orchid

Orchidaceae is a diverse and widespread family of flowering plants with blooms that are often colourful and often fragrant, commonly known as the orchid family. There are between 21,950 and 26,049 currently accepted species, found in 880 genera making it  one of the two largest families of flowering plants, along with the Asteraceae, (Asters). The number of orchid species nearly equals the number of bony fishes and more than twice the number of bird species, and about four times the number of mammal species. The family also encompasses about 6–11% of all seed plants.

The largest genera are Bulbophyllum (2,000 species), Epidendrum (1,500 species), Dendrobium (1,400 species) and Pleurothallis (1,000 species). The family also includes Vanilla (the genus of the vanilla plant), Orchis (type genus), and many commonly cultivated epiphytes such as Phaleanopsis, Dendrobium, Vanda and Cattleya. Moreover, since the introduction of tropical species into cultivation in the 19th century, horticulturists have produced more than 150,000 hybrids and cultivars.

 Some of the commonly grown genera in South East Queensland are Bulbophyllum,  Cattleya,  Cymbidium, Dendrobium,  Epidendrum,  Oncidium, Paphiopedilum,  Phaleanopsis, Vanda, and Australian Natives Species & Hybrids                        For cultural information of specific genera see

Culture-Genera  page

Why the Latin Names

Between 1735 and 1759, the Swedish Botanist, Carl Linneaus proposed and developed a systematic method of classification of plants and animals His system was based on a structured division into kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera and species. At that time, only 8 genera were recognised in the Family Orchidaceae.

By 1800 Olof Swartz had classified Orchidaceae into 25 genera.

In the 1830's, John Lindley, regarded as the father of Orchid taxonomy, recognised 4 sub-families and described 1980 species. Through the 1850's, he progressively published his Folia Orchidacea covering most of the orchid species known at the time.

How the system worked

The basis of classification was floral and vegetative morphology (the shape) with emphasis on the reproductive elements of the flowers as the primary determinant of genus and species.

The Linnean System of classification continued to be used and refined over the next 150 years with many thousands of species being identified.

DNA vs Linnean Classification

With the development of  DNA examination in the 1960’s, (a very accurate & quantitative means of assessment): -  the shortcomings in the Linnean system became glaringly apparent.

Over the past few decades, the enormous task of classifying orchids by their DNA has been undertaken & published, by a dedicated team of scientists, under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society.

The result was that many species became reclassified into new genera, some genera being combined & some new genera being defined.

This has caused considerable concern & angst in the orchid fraternity, as much of what was known, now needed to be unlearned.

 Further information on this topic can be found in a very good article written by Charlie McGonagle & published in the Queensland Orchid Society Newsletter.

Glossary of Genera Names, Hybrid Genera & Abbreviations (QOS)

How Do You Pronounce That - The Orchid House

Nomenclature : The written language of Horticulture  (QOS)

Fragrance of Orchids (By  species - C & M Baker,

                                           published AOS Bulletin)

aleanopsis  &  Vanda.



How the nomenclature evolved


Page updated 13/02/2016

 Den. bigibbum

(Sm. Vappodes phalaenopsis)

Cooktown Orchid

Photo credit: queenslandorchid.wordpress.com

Dockrillia linguiformis

Tongue or Thumbnail Orchid

Photo credit:  morselsandscraps.wordpress.com

Ascda. Princess Mikasa Blue

(Photocredit: orchidlog.blogspot.com.au)