By Matthew C. Pace

Jan 27 2023

With over 1,800 know species, Dendrobium is one of the 10 most species-rich of all plant genera. Distributed across southern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific, these beautiful orchids are incredibly diverse in flower shape and overall form, with flowers in a rainbow of brilliant colors. They also occur in a wide variety of habitats, with different species growing in high alpine forests, hot tropical forests, or deserts. Despite this diversity, all Dendrobium are epiphytic, meaning they live with their roots exposed to the air, harmlessly clinging to the branches of trees or rocks. This habit is reflected in the name Dendrobium, which is derived from the ancient Greek words dendron "tree" and bios "life."

Several species are used as the floral emblems for cities and provinces across Asia. In addition to being admired for their beauty, several species are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.