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Orchids belong to one of the two largest families of flowering plants, the Orchidaceae . This family is comprised of about 1,000 genera and more than 15,000 species. They are botanically considered herbs, since they do not produce wood. Although many of the most exotic species are epiphytes, many orchids are also terrestrial and saprophytic.

Orchids have been cultivated for centuries. They include rare and recent discoveries such as the tiny Genoplesium plumosum, the large, showy orchids, which are featured in bouquets and corsages, and 'food' orchids such as Vanilla. A few orchids have insignificant flowers and are grown for their foliage.

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