Epidendrum (commonly known as the star orchid or crucifix orchid), is a large neotropical genus of the orchid family. With more than 1,100 species, some authors refer to it as a mega-genus. The genus name (from Greek, "growing on trees") refers to its epiphytic growth habit. When Carolus Linnaeus named this genus in 1763, he included in this genus all the epiphytic orchids known to him. However, few of these orchids are still included in the genus Epidendrum.
They are native to the tropics and subtropical regions of the American continent, from South Carolina to Argentina. Their habitat is mostly epiphytic, a few are terrestrial or rarely growing on bare rock, such as Epidendrum calanthum and Epidendrum saxatile. Most are to be found in the Andes, at altitudes between 1,000 and 3,000 m. Their habitat varies from humid jungles to dry tropical forests, from sunny grassy slopes to cool cloud forests.
They are very varied in flower size and appearance. They grow in tufts, in racemose inflorescences, sometimes in corymbs or panicles. The apical, lateral or basal flowers are mostly small to medium in size and are not marked by a conspicuous display. They are borne on a dense inflorescence. Many species are fragrant. The flowers may be produced only once, or during several years from the same or new racemes. The ellipsoid fruits are 3-ribbed capsules.
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