Weird and Wacky Orchids

The 30,000 or so species of orchids around the world have tremendous variations in their flower shapes. Some of them have shapes that are truly surprising. Others are so unusual that it can be tough to believe that they’re real. And some have flowers that are just plain weird. Here are some great examples from last weekend’s Pacific Orchid Exposition. I’ll call this first set of pictures the fish group, since I think they look more like sea creatures than orchids.

Epidendrum flowerPleurothallis flowersPterostylis flowers

Each of these unusual flowers has evolved to attract a specific pollinator in the rainforest. A flower shape that may seem bizarre to us serves as the perfect lure to convince an insect to carry pollen from one flower to another. This specific relationship is one of the successful strategies that orchids use to survive in a competitive, densely crowded rainforest. Since bugs may see a meal in these funky flowers, I’ll call this set the food group. I see a piece of spiral pasta, orange caviar, and bunches of grapes.

Masdevallia flowerPleurothallis flowersElleanthus flowers

Most of the orchids here require specialized conditions, and are for advanced growers. They aren’t commonly seen in cultivation, but maybe if they were, their strange shapes wouldn’t be so incredible. I’ll call this last set the bird group, and I think you’ll see why. I’m open to other interpretations as to what they look like, but you’ll have to agree that they’re amazing flowers.

Bulbophyllum flowerScaphosepalum flowerSigmatostalix flower

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3 Comments on “Weird and Wacky Orchids”

  1. Florist.Guy Says:

    Great photos. What is the name of the orchid that smells like chocolate? Do you have a picture of it? My wife love’s them, and the name escapes me. I can’t remember for the life of me…Please let me know. Thanks.

  2. Marc Says:

    You’re probably referring to a popular Oncidium hybrid named Oncidium Sharry Baby. However there are other orchids with “chocolate” in their names because their flowers have a chocolate-like scent, so you may need to smell the flowers to see if the smell is the one you recognize.

  3. nancy Says:

    i think the 1st pic in the bird group looks more like a dinosaur. the little orange flowers look like pieces of carrot.