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There are currently over 1000 orchid genera and up to 30,000 different species, of which there are numerous subspecies/cultivars such as hybrids. The plant expert orchid encyclopedia with pictures provides an overview of the most popular and widespread orchid species in Central Europe.

orchid species

Orchids are among the finest plants and most popular flower gifts. It often happens that the exact species is not necessarily known. But the right care often depends on this. The plant expert has put together an encyclopedia that lists the most common types of orchids so that you can identify your exotic floral beauty by name based on the description and the included pictures and learn interesting facts about it.

Varieties with A


The Aerangis orchid family has around 50 different species and mainly comes from tropical Africa and Madagascar. One of the most widespread species is the Aegangis articulata. Notable features are the following.

  • star-shaped flowers
  • flowers usually growing on top of each other
  • numerous flowers that smell strongly in the evening
  • available as hanging and standing flower
  • Flower color: white


Around 20 different species of the Aerides orchid family are available in Central Europe. The best known is the Aerides odorata. It can be recognized by its white flowers with a striking pink stripe. This orchid species is native to the Himalayas and the Philippines. It can reach a height of over two meters. Other species are available with white, pink, or red-colored fine flowers.

Arundina graminifolia

The Arundina graminifolia comes from the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. With proper care, it can reach a height of up to two meters. Its grass-like foliage is striking, with small flowers only forming at the ends of the stems. The inflorescence is racemose and consists of up to 15 individual flowers twisted downwards, of which only two or three open at the same time.


The Angraecum genus consists of around 210 species. These are mostly so-called epiphytic plants, botanically called epiphytic. That means they live on other plants. They originally come from the tropical regions of Africa. The best-known species include those listed below.

  • Angreacum sesquipedale also called "Star of Madagascar", white, large flowers, tapering at the ends of the flowers
  • Angreacum leonis has white flowers, but are significantly smaller than those of the sesquipedale
  • Angreacum elephantinum is one of the small specimens, but forms large white flowers
  • Angreacum viguieri has a size of up to about 15 centimeters, shows itself with filiform petals in an orange-brown on a white background


The appendicula is at home in tropical Asia and has almost 140 species, most of which only occur in Asia. The appendicula can basically be recognized by its thick, and unusually fleshy leaves, which are quite small. The following species is very noble.

  • Appendicula rubens with very small white flowers growing on leafy shoot ends


Aspasia is an orchid genus with only eight different species. It is mostly found in Central America. What is special about it is that it often appears in color combinations that combine white, dark red and shades of brown. Growth takes place via creeping rhizomes, on which pseudobulbs form again and again at short intervals. Among the most beautiful specimens are the two varieties listed below.

  • Aspasia lunata with white-pink lips encircled in a star-like fashion by leaves streaked with a greenish-brown hue
  • Aspasia silvana has white lips and the petals are brown in colour

Varieties with B


With the Barbosella, two types of orchids stand out in the foreground, which differ from other types of orchids solely because of their unusual shape. Lancet-shaped, the flower lips point downwards, while one of the upper petals stands up like an antenna. The Barbosella dolichorhiza is available with purple flowers and the Barbosella hirzii with greenish-yellow flowers.


The Barkeria with its 12 orchid species comes from Central America. Two types in particular are very well known.

  • Barkeria spectabilis Available with flowers in different shades of pink
  • Barkeria skinneri stands out with its bright pink flowers


In Brazil, the Bifrenaria grows in the wild. It mainly grows on other plants (epiphytic) or on rocky ground. Out of 21 different species, Bifrenaria aureofulva, for example, is a beautiful example of a houseplant. It has several orange flowers and leaves shaped like sword blades.


The Brassovola species are among the smallest orchid genera that have creeping rhizomes. As a rule, they only form a white flower, which at most has a different colored lip color. An essential distinguishing feature are the narrow petals, which taper to a point at their ends. The flower lips are folded like a funnel. In Central Europe, the following species in particular are among the top sellers.

  • Brassavola flagellaris with a flower lip on a yellow background and a white flower
  • Brassavola digbyana shows itself with delicately frayed flower edges


The Brassia comes from the tropics of America with around 34 known types of orchids. Several flowers form on one shoot, which line up one behind the other. Particularly striking are the petals, which from a distance point in all directions from the flower core like spider legs. The flower colors range from green to white with a slight yellow tinge. Some specimens have dark spots on the flowers or petals, such as Brassia verrucosa.


One of the largest orchid genera is the Bulbophyllum with 1,800 species. These are used to warm temperatures all year round and also require them in Central Europe. The grape-shaped inflorescence, which forms on the lowest leaves from the thickening and the pseudobulbs that have grown from it, is particularly striking. The flowers are striking because of their rich colors and their delicately shaped blossoms. The following varieties are particularly widespread.

  • Bulbophyllum annandalei has star-shaped white-yellow flowers with delicate red stripes and a yellow background
  • Bulbophyllum carunculatum has elongated petals and reddish base with yellow bloom
  • Bulbophyllum corolliferum features fine, elongated flowers arranged in a semicircle and are pink or yellow in color
  • Bulbophyllum delitescens has twisted together small flowers in bright pink-red and long lips in the shape of a cone

Varieties with C


With a Calanthe you get an orchid specimen with a combination of two to three different colors. The flowers emerge from the pseudobulbs, from where they develop into racemose inflorescences. In Germany, two types of Calanthe are particularly popular.

  • Calanthe discolor shows white flowers with reddish brown
  • Calanthe triplicata has white flowers with an orange throat and a divided lip


There are around 45 species of the cattley orchid, all of which can be recognized by their fairly large flowers. Some specimens are fragrant. The choice of colors ranges from yellow, white and pink in different nuances. The following types are offered the most.

  • Cattleya kerii with a flower appearing entirely in pink
  • Cattleya guttata features a pink lip and glossy green petals dotted with dark spots


The Ceratostylis orchids, which have over 140 species, are among the mini orchids up to a maximum height of 20 centimeters. The species from Asia are characterized by their ease of care. Most plants have five slender petals and the lip of the flower often stands out with a different colour. They are available as hanging and standing plants. Two types of orchids in particular are widespread.

  • Ceratostylis rubra with rich orange flowers and darker lips and long, lance-shaped leaves
  • Ceratostylis philippinensis has pure white flowers with a bulging core in the middle and long, slender leaves


The 10 Chysis orchid species come from the humid forests of Central and Central America. They have relatively large petals. The leaves are only in the upper third of the stems. One of the best-known species is the Chysis laevis, which has orange or yellow flowers.

Varieties with D


The Dendrobium species are also called grape orchids, of which there are around 1,500 different variations. They are the most popular orchid specimens in Germany and, despite their origins in tropical regions, feel very comfortable as indoor plants in Central Europe. Countless shapes and flower colors are available. Most of them stand out from other orchids because of the variety of flowers. Among the most well-known species are these.

  • Dendrobium farmeri with numerous flowers in white and unusually large flower stalks
  • Dendrobium mohlianum with palm-like leaves and mostly leafless shoots on which orange flowers bloom
  • Dendrobium nobile is the most well-known species with long rows of flowers in the color combinations white, violet and/or pink


Grass-like foliage and spike-like flower spikes make a Dendrochilum easy to recognize. Depending on the stage of development, the flower stalks bend slightly downwards. The following types of orchids are mainly offered in the trade.

  • Dendrochilum wenzelii with small orange-red petals that flap far outwards
  • Dendrochilum yuccifolium similar to the "Wenzelii" but with greenish white petals

Varieties from E to L


An epidendrum is an epiphytic variety of orchid that does very well on other plants. Around 1,500 different species are known, most of which come from Central and South America and all grow on a rhizome. Below the flower stalks are usually long, thick leaves that feel almost like leather. Between six and 14 flowers are formed in healthy plants. Three of the most well-known types are these.

  • Epidendrum magnoliae with delicate white petals
  • Epidendrum radicans impresses with flowers in a strong shade of red
  • Epidendrum ibaguense usually with flower heads consisting of many flowers in orange, red, pink or violet


In nature, the Gongora occurs mainly in Brazil and Mexico. The genus includes around 25 different orchid species, all of which have pointed petals and different colors of the petals and lips. The Gongora maculata is particularly well known in Germany. It can be recognized by the long, upright leaves, yellow flower lips and a reddish-brown flower colour.


In addition to a tropical species, the genus Liparis also includes native specimens, such as the Liparis loeselii, which is also known under the names peat or marsh shine herb or shine orchid. It has stable, mostly upright leaves, above which the flower stalks with several flowers rise. The small flowers captivate with widely spreading petals in a yellow tone.

Varieties from M to S


The Masdevallia species, of which there are around 400, show off their spectacular flowers. Most of these species grow in the high Andes of Central and South America. They have lower leaves that grow around the sprouts and appear dried there. The flowers, which consist of three outer leaves, which are usually fused together and run to a point at one end, are particularly eye-catching.

  • Masdevallia rolfeana is a classic species of its genus with connected burgundy petals
  • Masdevallia herradurae is optically the exception, it has single, very thin and long petals


The Venus slipper, as the Paphiopedilum orchids are popularly called, includes around 100 different species, most of which come from the Asian region. A special feature is the one to three bracts in the upper part of the flower, above which there is a flower bud. In the lower area is the petal, which resembles the shape of a shoe. Among the most commonly represented orchid species are those listed below.

  • Paphiopedilum glanduliferum with dark red and white striped petals
  • Paphiopedilum gratrixianum with white and orange petals and an orange petal
  • Paphiopedilum Magic Lantern presents itself with a pure pink inflorescence


The most well-known orchid genus is definitely the Phalaenopsis, of which there is an unknown number of special breeds, which probably number in the thousands. The special thing about her is the low maintenance requirement, which makes her an ideal plant for beginners.

She feels particularly comfortable on branches and twigs. All species are tall plants and have foliage that feels almost like leather. Depending on the species, the leaves reach lengths of between 10 centimeters and one meter. The flowers can have arching, straight-up or drooping growth. The following species are particularly well known.

  • Phalaenopsis amabilis with classic Phalaenopsis flowers available in a wide range of colours
  • Phalaenopsis bellina consists of the color combination of strong white and bright pink
  • Phaleanopsis mannii differs from other specimens by its slender petals in green with brown-red coloring
  • Phalaenopsis gigantea shows itself with unusually large leaves and with flowers mostly in shades of red


The Phragmipedium includes around 24 species of orchids. A special feature is the protruding ovary, which is why they are also called "lady's slipper" because its shape is reminiscent of this. Most of the Phragmipedium species form only one flower per stem. Exceptions can be found among the so-called revolver bloomers. Species differences can be found in the choice of location. Some like bright and warm sites, while others are more comfortable in the cooler shade. Well-known examples of monobloods and multiple bloods are the following.

  • Phragmipedium besseae whose flowers glow in orange-red
  • Phragmipedium lindleyanum has one flower per stem in yellow-green and a large ovary


Around 100 species have sprung from the Sobralia, most of which have their origins in South and Central America. They are sometimes very different, which is particularly evident in a possible plant height of only a few centimeters up to ten meters. The petals are arranged in two rows and not all species have a peduncle. In some specimens, the bracts overlap. They can be recognized above all by their three outer leaves, which are distributed around the usually larger petals. The petals have predominantly jagged or wavy edges. The following are widespread in Central Europe.

  • Sobralia xantholeuca with flowers in pastel yellow to strong lemon yellow
  • Sobrailia dichotoma these come in various shades of white and pink and have wavy petal edges

Varieties from T to Z


The approximately 60 different orchid species of the Trichoglottis originally come from Southeast Asia. Basically they are divided into two basic types: hanging stems with small flowers on them and upright growing orchid types. Examples are those listed below.

  • Trichoglottis australiensis as a hanging plant, which is less common in Germany
  • Trichoglottis brachiata as a standing orchid with velvety red flowers
  • Trichoglottis triflora as a standing species with white, small flowers


The Vanda orchid includes around 50 different species. They all impress with their colorful flowers, which last up to six weeks with optimal care. It is available in classic orchid colors, but also as special varieties with blue flowers. A special feature are the mostly small flowers, which are distributed over the flower stalks and thus resemble a little hyacinths. These are very popular among orchid lovers.

  • Christensoniamum with dense, old-pink colored flower clusters
  • Vanda ampullaceumcatches the eye with its pink butterfly-shaped flowers


The best-known orchid species among the climbing plants is the vanilla, of which there are several different subspecies, but only one is most well known in Germany, the vanilla planifolia or also called spice vanilla. It's a creeper. The vanilla spice is obtained from it. What is striking about all vanilla species are the leathery, fleshy, thick leaves and racemose inflorescences, in which the yellow or white flowers are densely lined up.


The exotic Zygopetalum includes about 15 species, all of which have fragrant flowers. These sit on stems that can reach a length of up to 60 centimeters. The Zygopetalum species are particularly popular because of their long-lasting flowers. The flowers are small or large depending on the species. The flower colors are striking, which give the orchids an additional noble touch with shades of green, red or purple as well as different patterns. The following are among the most well-known specimens in Germany.

  • Zygopetalum maculatum with white petals and blue veining
  • Zygopelatum Arthur Elle of the 'Bright and Blue' variety, which has strongly scented flowers and dark blue lips

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