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Parts of an Orchid Plant

orchids image by MIchelle Chrin from

The orchid family is large and diverse, according to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension. Orchids are popular with home gardeners, who often grow them indoors in containers. The flowers are desirable for their exotic beauty and almost unlimited range of shapes and hues. Although orchids can differ widely in terms of care needs and appearance, they all have the same parts.


The roots of the orchid, although barely noticeable, are the most important part of the plant. It is through the roots that nutrients and water are absorbed to flow to the rest of the flower. Some orchids get these from the soil, while other orchids attach themselves to a host, wrapping their roots around the host plant and absorbing nutrients from the humid air. Still other orchids have something called pseudobulbs on their roots, which are structures that store water for later use.

Stem and Leaves

Orchids have one stem that grows from the main root. In some orchids, the stem is very sturdy and thick. In other orchids, the stem may be fairly thin and even bend over. The flowers sit atop this stem, or grow along either side of the stem. For this reason, the stem is also sometimes called a flower spike. The leaves grow from the stem, and these can vary widely in color and shape depending on the type of orchid. It is the leaves that make food for the plant through the process of photosynthesis. If the leaf of an orchid starts turning light green or yellow, it is not receiving enough light and cannot produce enough food for the flower.


The flower is the most recognizable part of an orchid. Every orchid has the same structures contained in the flower, but the shape and number of the structures can vary. An orchid flower has two or three sepals, which are modified leaves that fan out behind the flower. In front of the sepals lie three flower petals. These can be round, heart-shaped, ruffled or smooth. They are arranged with one on either side, and one hanging down in the front. This lower petal is called the "lip". The lip of an orchid is usually the most colorful part and functions to attract insects to the nectar. The reproductive organs are the stamen, where the pollen is located, and the ovaries, which sit below the stamen. These reproductive organs are tucked into the throat of the flower, which is located toward the rear of the lip.

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