Discover the wild Orchids of Kythera

by Dimitris Baltzis

The family of orchids (orchidaceae) is one of the largest families of flowering plants with over 25,000 species classified in about 800 genera. Their classification presents several difficulties and so the exact number of species is not easy to calculate.
They spread to all continents except Antarctica.
In the tropics there are large impressive orchids such as vanilla and whaling that have been cultivated since the 19th century and exist as marketable species around the world.
The terrestrial orchids of Europe, in contrast to their impressive tropical cousins, are smaller in size and grow from bulbs in the ground. When we say terrestrial orchids we actually mean various orchids. More than 50 genera are recorded in Europe and Asia. In Kythira there are representatives of eight different genera and over 50 species with the most impressive being the genus Ophrys.
The name of the genus orchis is attributed to Theophrastus and was apparently given because of the similarity of the bulbs of some species with the male genitals.


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