Orchid glossary: These two words may sound fancy, but it’s just a big list of words about orchids. However, a glossary can significantly help you when reading plant journals or articles about orchids.Orchid Glossary

That’s why knowing orchid terms is critical. In this guide, we will learn together, and by the end, you’ll be able to talk about orchids like a pro!

Glossary of Orchid Parts- Remember These Terms

A glossary of orchid parts is the key term for understanding the anatomy of orchid plants. Roots have specific terms, while gardening has given unique names to the blooms. Orchid enthusiasts must know about them to understand basic things about these plants.

– Root Glossary

Root Orchid Glossary

Adventitious Roots: Roots from a non-root tissue, like a stem or leaf, often in stress response.

Aerial Roots: Those roots that grow above the ground and in the air. They’re common in many epiphytic orchids.

Contractile Roots: These types of roots pull the plant deeper into the substrate, ensuring the plant is firmly anchored in the ground.

Cortex (Root Cortex): The outermost layer of the root where nutrients are stored.

Deciduous Roots: Roots that are seasonally shed off, not commonly seen in orchids.

Desiccation: The state of extreme dryness or the process of excessive drying. Orchid roots can be desiccated if not watered appropriately.

Epiphytic Roots: Roots of orchids that grow on other plants. They are adapted to absorb moisture from the air.

Fibrous Roots: These are fine roots that usually spread out in a mat and help to anchor the orchid firmly.

Hairy Roots: Orchid roots may appear “hairy” due to velamen radicum, a multi-layered, spongy tissue that absorbs water.

Haustoria: Specialized roots that penetrate the tissue of a host organism to derive nutrients. Not found in orchids but is essential in the context of other parasitic plants that accompany orchids.

Pneumatophores: Specialized aerial roots that act like snorkels, reaching above the surface to access air. While more common in mangroves, a few orchid species have similar structures when grown in swampy conditions.

Rhizoctonia: A fungal infection that can affect orchid roots, often causing rot.

Root Apex: The root tip, where most growth and absorption occur.

Root Cap: The section of the root that protects the root tip as it penetrates the soil.

Root Hairs: Small, hair-like outgrowths from a plant’s roots help increase surface area for absorption.

Root Nodules: Small, typically round structures on the roots where bacteria live.

Root Rot: A disease, usually fungal, that causes the decay and death of roots.

Root System: The entire network of an orchid’s roots, functioning together for support, nutrient uptake, and storage.

Root Tip: The part of the root that is actively growing and where most absorption of water and nutrients occurs.

Taproot: A central, vertically downward-growing root giving rise to lateral roots. In orchids, however, taproots are uncommon.

Terrestrial Roots: Roots of orchids that grow in the ground. These roots are usually adapted for nutrient absorption from the soil.

Tuberous Roots: Some terrestrial orchids form thick, fleshy roots for nutrient and water storage, similar to tubers.

Velamen: A thick, multi-layered tissue that is one of the parts of an orchid air roots.

– Flower Glossary

Orchid Flower Glossary

Anther Cap: Protective covering of the anther, a part of the male reproductive organ.

Bloom: A term for the orchid’s flower. We typically think of the showy, often colorful part of the plant when discussing orchids.

Bilateral Symmetry: A characteristic of orchid flowers where the flower can only be divided into two identical halves along one vertical axis.

Bud: Ever wondered, “What part of an orchid blooms?” It’s the bud that blooms and becomes flowers.

Column: The part of an orchid flower where the reproductive structures are compactly arranged.

Dorsal Sepal: The uppermost sepal in an orchid flower, often different from the two lateral sepals.

Fragrance: Many orchids are known for their delightful or unique smells, which are used to attract pollinators.

Floral Bract: A small, leaf-like structure on the inflorescence, typically located where the flower stem emerges.

Labellum: Also known as the lip, it is the most unique part of an orchid flower, used to attract pollinators.

Lateral Sepals: The two sepals on either side of an orchid flower. Along with the dorsal sepal, they protect the flower bud.

Nectar: Sweet secretion from the flowers used to attract and reward pollinators.

Ovary: The enlarged lower part of the pistil where seeds are produced after fertilization.

Petal: The parts of an orchid flower that are often colorful and attract pollinators.

Pedicel: The individual flower stalk connecting the bloom to the central inflorescence stalk.

Pistil: The female organ of an orchid flower fused with the column’s stamen.

Pollinia: The pollen grains of orchid flowers are usually joined together in these structures.

Pollen Cap or Pollinium: The packet of pollen found in orchids, which is often transferred as a whole to or from the pollinator.

Sepal: The outer parts of the flower, usually green and leaf-like. They protect the flower in the bud.

Spike: In orchids, a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and carries multiple flowers.

Stigma: The part of the female reproductive organ in a flower where pollen germinates.

Stamen: The male organ of an orchid flower. It is fused with the female reproductive organ to form the column.

Raceme: It is an orchid inflorescence type.

Throat: The entrance into the tubular structure of a flower.

Tongue: Another term for the labellum or lip of the orchid flower.

Viscidium: A sticky pad at the end of the pollinia helps attach the pollinia to pollinators.

– Orchid Disease Glossary

Anthracnose: A fungal disease causing dark, sunken spots on leaves, stems, flowers, and even roots.

Bacterial Brown Spot: A bacterial disease begins as small, water-soaked lesions. They enlarge, coalesce, and eventually turn black with time.

Cercospora Leaf Spot: A fungal disease that leads to irregularly-shaped brown or black leaf spots.

Damping-off: A disease often caused by several fungi types that kill or weaken seeds or seedlings before or after germinating.

Erwinia Soft Rot: A bacterial infection that causes rapid, watery rot of pseudobulbs, leaves, and roots.

Fusarium Wilt: A fungal disease that invades the vascular system of the plant, leading to wilting and often death.

Grey Mould (Botrytis): A fungal infection that causes a grey, fuzzy mold on the leaves, stems, and flowers of the orchids.

Hyperplasia: Abnormal multiplication of normal cells in a typical arrangement in a tissue.

Ink Spot (Cladosporium): A fungal infection that causes dark, wet-looking spots on leaves that may spread and merge.

Jewel Orchid Fungal Leaf Spot: Specific to Jewel Orchids, this fungal disease causes black or dark green spot formation on the leaves.

Keiki Disease: Not a disease per se, but a growth anomaly where an orchid produces many keikis (baby plants) but fails to flower.

Leaf Blight: A disease that causes large sections of the leaves to discolor, wilt, and die back.

Mosaic Virus: A viral infection that causes a mosaic-like pattern of discoloration on leaves.

Necrosis: Refers to the death of plant tissue, often seen as browning or blackening, which can occur due to various diseases.

Orchid Fleck Virus: A viral disease that causes small, fleck-like lesions on the leaves.

Petiole Rot: A disease that causes the petioles (leaf stems) to rot, often leading to the loss of the leaf.

Root Rot: A disease, often caused by overwatering or poor drainage, that causes the roots to become waterlogged, decay, and die.

Septoria Leaf Spot: A fungal disease causing small, round spots with a gray center and dark border.

Tospovirus: A group of viruses that can cause ring spots, line patterns, or mottling on orchid leaves.

Uredo: A type of rust fungus that can infect orchids, causing orange-brown pustules on the undersides of leaves.

Viral Infections: Orchids can be affected by various viruses, often resulting in discoloration, distortion, and growth stunting.

Xanthomonas Leaf Spot: A bacterial disease causing small, yellow to tan leaf spots that may grow larger and merge.

Yellow Leaf Spot: A symptom of several diseases that causes yellow spots on the leaves.

Zygostates necrosis: Specific to Zygostates orchids, this necrotic condition results in tissue death and browning.

– Orchid Techniques Glossary

Orchid Techniques Glossary

Airing: The practice of ensuring good air circulation around orchids, which is essential to their health.

Backbulb Propagation: A propagation technique involving separating and replanting old pseudobulbs.

Bagging: A method of creating high humidity around a plant, usually to aid in rooting or growth.

Cloning: Creating a genetically identical copy of an orchid, typically through meristem tissue culture.

Deflasking: The process of removing orchid seedlings from their flask (where they were grown in sterile conditions).

Dividing: The process of separating an orchid into two or more parts to propagate it.

Fertilizing: Providing supplemental nutrients to orchids to support their growth and blooming.

Flashing: Germinating orchid seeds in a sterile, nutrient-rich medium inside a sealed container or flask.

Layering: A propagation technique involving root induction while the new plant is still attached to the parent.

Mounting: A method of growing orchids, often epiphytic species, attached to a piece of bark or other material rather than in a pot.

Misting: A method of raising humidity or watering orchids by spraying a fine mist.

Potting: Planting an orchid in a pot, often with a specialized orchid potting mix.

Reblooming: The process of encouraging an orchid to flower again after it has finished a blooming cycle.

Repotting: Transferring an orchid to a new pot is often necessary every few years as the potting medium breaks down.

Shading: Controlling the intensity of light that reaches the orchid to prevent sunburn or overexposure.

Soaking: A watering method where the orchid’s pot is placed in a water container to allow the potting medium to absorb moisture.

Tissue Culture: A propagation method that involves growing new plants from a few cells or tissue in a nutrient-rich medium under sterile conditions.

Top Dressing: Adding a thin layer of material (like compost or fertilizer) to the top of the potting medium.

Ventilating: Providing fresh air and reducing stagnant air around the orchid can help prevent disease.

Watering: Providing water to the orchid’s roots is a critical care aspect that varies among different orchid types.

Xeriscaping: A landscaping and gardening style that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water. Some gardeners go for it to enhance beauty and improve orchid’s health.

– Other Botanical Glossary

Other Botanical Glossary

Apical Dominance: The phenomenon whereby the main, central stem of the plant is dominant. It is more robust than other side or lateral stems.

Backbulb: A pseudobulb that no longer produces leaves but is still alive and can be used for propagation.

Basal: Refers to the orchid’s base or growth coming from the bottom.

Chlorophyll: The green pigment in orchid leaves (and most plants) that absorbs sunlight for photosynthesis.

Corm: A short, swollen underground plant stem that serves as a storage organ.

Crown: The point where the leaves and stem of an orchid meet.

Deciduous: In the context of orchids, referring to plants that lose their leaves during a particular season.

Epiphyte: Orchids that grow on other plants (not parasitically) or rocks, absorbing moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.

Evergreen: Orchids that retain their leaves all year round.

Hybrid: A plant resulting from the crossbreeding of two different parent plants. Many popular orchids are hybrids.

Internode: The segment of the stem between two nodes.

Keiki: A Hawaiian term in an orchid culture that refers to a baby plant. A keiki is an exact clone of the mother plant, growing along the stem or at the base of the parent.

Leaf: The part of the orchid that photosynthesizes, converting sunlight into food for the plant. They also play a role in water uptake in some species.

Lithophyte: Orchids that grow on rocks, often seen with roots gripping into rock crevices.

Monopodial Growth: This term describes orchids that grow vertically from a single stem, continually rising from the top. Examples include Vandas and Phalaenopsis orchids.

Node: The part of the plant stem where leaves or branches are attached.

Phyllotaxy: The leaf arrangement on the plant stem.

Photosynthesis: The process by which green plants, including orchids, use sunlight to synthesize foods with the help of chlorophyll.

Pseudobulb: A part of the orchid plant that stores water and nutrients. It is a swollen stem in many orchids, looking like a bulb.

Rhizome: A horizontal stem of a plant, often found underground, which can produce roots and shoots to create new plants.

Scape: A long, leafless stalk that arises from the base of the orchid and carries the flowers.

Sheath: A protective structure that some orchids form around developing inflorescences or pseudobulbs.

Spike: In the context of orchids, a spike refers to a type of inflorescence that is unbranched and carries multiple flowers.

Stem: The main body or trunk of the orchid. It provides structural support and transports resources between the roots and leaves.

Sympodial Growth: The lateral growth of orchids. The plants grow with a rhizome that sends up multiple shoots that mature into a new pseudobulb with leaves and flowers.

Tendril: A slender, coiling structure that some orchids have that supports the plant by clinging to a support surface.

Terrestrial: Orchids that can grow on the ground, in soil, or leaf litter.

Tuber: A swollen underground stem or root that serves as a storage organ.

Variegated: Leaves that have different colored zones, often due to a lack of chlorophyll in some cells.


Every orchid enthusiast must know the specific terms related to the orchid plants. Here, we discussed it in categories. Just remember these things:

  • A”Glossary” is a valuable and user-friendly resource that offers clear and concise explanations of terms and concepts.
  • It helps in understanding the language of orchids and enhances your knowledge.
  • It is better to memorize every term/concept.

With the “Glossary” as your guide, you can confidently explore the fascinating world of orchids. So, go ahead! Learn about their different parts and discover practical techniques for their cultivation.

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