Orchids are a vast and varied group of plants, from tiny species with flowers smaller than a pinhead, to spectacular species with petals over 90 cm long. Exploring the cloud forests of Papua New Guinea, we find one of the richest arrays of orchids found anywhere in the world, with a dazzling rainbow of colours and forms! Within the world’s diversity of orchids, we meet some of the most interesting: iridescent leaved-Bulbophyllum, black-flowered Dracula, monkey-face orchids, rude naked man orchids, flying duck orchids, hammer orchids and spectacular Paphiopedilum slipper orchids!
Some orchids are truly bizarre, such as Trichosalpinx rotundata which produce flowers from the underside of their circular leaves, while others, such as Coryanthes macrantha, produce bucket shaped blooms that trick bees into acting as their pollinators.
Not all orchids are from steamy jungles… we meet the temperate bee orchids and stunning Alpine Cypripedium from the Himalayas.
Yet for all this diversity, only one orchid is edible to humans… Vanilla. We visit a Vanilla farm to discover how Vanilla plants are grow and Vanilla pods are produces, and we then take a look at large scale, commercial orchid production for the consumer market.
We end with a look at how to set up an orchid house, and discover the basics of orchid cultivation!