Identifying Orchids

Don't know which type of orchid you've got? Identifying orchids is most easily done by looking at the flowers. Unfortunately, there are so many kinds of orchids that only expert taxonomists can reliably identify all of them. (And even they might have a lot of trouble with all the hybrid orchids.)

The most reliable way to identify a plant is usually to look at the label. If it has the orchid's name, you're done!

Unfortunately, many plants are sold without nametags, and it's easy to lose the nametag too, especially while repotting orchids. (Always set the label aside, and remember where you put it for when the process is done!) If you've lost the label, then it gets tricky. If you know the plant's genus (for example, it's fairly easy to recognize a Phalaenopsis, once you've seen enough of them. And if the flower has a pouch, it's one of the Cypripedioideae, or lady slipper orchids.), then try doing an image search on Google for that genus, and see if anything looks like your orchid.

If you don't know the plant's genus but you know what the flowers look like, try browsing my section on orchid types to see if anything resembles your orchid. That may help you to narrow it down.

If the plant isn't in flower, you'll have to ask yourself some questions about its vegetative characteristics. Is it monopodial or sympodial? If it's monopodial, it's probably related to Phalaenopsis and Vanda, or maybe Vanilla. Most orchids are sympodial, so that's less helpful.

Does it have pseudobulbs? Do you get a series of leaves along a long cane? If you can spot any old flower stems, where do they emerge from the plant? Is there any indication as to how many flowers appear on each stem? Growth characteristics like this can help you narrow it down to a genus.

If you know the plant's country of origin in the wild, that's a big help too; this is particularly helpful if you go on a trip to take pictures of orchids in the wild, and want to identify what you've seen. (Most orchids are protected species, so orchid collecting trips need special permits, especially if you transport the plants across international borders afterward. Most typically, you need a phytosanitary certificate from your home country, a collection permit from the plant's native country, and a CITES permit to transport it in between.)

Unfortunately, with 30,000 wild orchid species and hundreds of thousands of man-made hybrids, it's hard to give a complete system for identification. Look at a lot of pictures until you find one that looks like your orchid, then hopefully that's it, or at least it's a useful clue.

You can also take it to a local orchid society and ask other people to help you figure out what it is; they just might recognize it!

Stumped? Ask This Site's Visitors for an ID!

If you're having trouble identifying an orchid, post some photos with a description. Hopefully other visitors will recognize the plant! I'll try to help, too!

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Other Visitors' Orchid Identification Challenges

Click the links below to see plants other visitors are trying to identify and help out...

margarite holm 134 
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Lynn 
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helping out a friend to identify such beautiful flower.

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The flowers are rather large (a good 4 1/2 inches across) and have a dark red throat that looks like it could hold water! From that point it fades into …

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Hello, Any help is much appreciated! I went to a funeral yesterday and the plant that the family gave away was this beautiful mini flowered orchid (I …

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The flower shape resembales an oncidium but the way they are arranged on the spike reminds me of an epidendrum as well as the thick leaves. it is a releatively …

Need help to identify orchid 
Picture attached

What is this one? Miltonia? Miltoniopsis? I think it has pseudobulbs. 
What is this one? Miltonia? Miltoniopsis? I think it has pseudobulbs (showing in picture). Thank you!

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I bought this one in a generic shop and it was tagged phalaenopsis if I remember it right... well, I'm not sure about this. It's a lot prolific, I had …

What is this? 
I took several pictures of the flowers and the plant itself. It was previously in a basket and we moved it , separating it in two, one in a little …

Please help. I need to Identify this... 
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A very healthy hybrid with florescence 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" at the end of a 16' spike which extends from the top of a 4" oval pseudobulb which also has 2 or …

Anyone know what type of orchid this is? 
I believe it is a type of Cattleya based on the long flat leaves. When it flowers, it is a beautiful ball of pink and white spotted flowers. I have never …

What is this? 
Know nothing about orchids. Got this as a gift and want to take proper care of it. Can anyone help? Thanks.

"Piney Woods" Orchids 
I have an orchid I would like to identify. I have these growing in pots, as well as in the ground outside in Austin Texas, where they have been growing …

It is a minature orchid 
Can you tell me the type of orchid this is and what care it needs? See picture

Terrestrial Orchid 
This flower is growing in my Mothers back yard, first time ever! It has 6-8 inch long, orchid looking leaves, growing close to the ground, 18-24 inch tall …

What the heck is this, please? 
Sorry, don't have any info. Was a gift to my mother and she no longer has the label or care instructions. In addition, I am a novice gardner (1st year …

Young Phalaenopsis? 
Complete newb here, so I thought instead of trying to describe it I would just provide some pictures. I bought it at lowes when it was just a tiny sprout …

Does anyone recognise this orchid?  
What kind of orchid is this? does anyone recognise it? I havent seen any pictures of it on google/yahoo searches or on any other orchid sites/stores. …

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