Laelia anceps — Fotopedia
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Laelia anceps

Laelia anceps is a species of orchid found in Mexico and Guatemala.

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Laelia, abbreviated L. in the horticultural trade, is a small genus of 25 species from the orchid family (Orchidaceae). This is one of the most important and popular orchid genera, because of the beautiful flowers, their genetic properties and because they are fairly easy in culture. John Lindley did not specify his reasons for naming this orchid as he did; one possibility is that he named it after Laelia, one of the Vestal Virgins.

Laelia species are found in the subtropical or temperate climate of Central America, but mostly in Mexico. Laelia speciosa is a high-elevation plant, preferring sunny, dry and cool conditions. The others grow in the rainforest with a warm, humid summer and a dry cool winter. The species L. albida, L. anceps and L. autumnalis prefer higher and cooler altitudes.

Laelia is one of the orchid genera known to use crassulacean acid metabolism photosynthesis, which reduces evapotranspiration during daylight because carbon dioxide is collected at night.

Most are epiphytes, but a few are lithophytes, such as Laelia anceps. They are closely related to Cattleya, but have twice as many pollinia. Stems are usually short, however the stem of Laelia anceps can be more than 1 m long. The ovate pseudobulbs are clearly separate. These are about 6 – 30 cm long. One or two waxy, leathery leaves develop from each pseudobulb. This leaf can be up to 20 cm long. The inflorescence is a raceme, which can be 30 cm long, with up to eight flowers, growing from the top of the pseudobulb. These flowers can be pink to purple, with a beautifully colored purple lip becoming white close to the column . They bloom in spring or autumn. Albino varieties are rare and therefore prized. Due to high demand for such a rare mutations, many horticultural labs use modern tissue culture or mericloning techniques to increase their availability.

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List of natural Orchidaceae genera

This is a list of genera in the Orchid family (Orchidaceae), originally according to The Families of Flowering Plants - L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz. This list is adapted on a regular basis with the changes published in the Orchid Research Newsletter which is published twice a year by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The most up to date list of accepted; genera, natural nothogenera, species and natural nothospecies with their synonyms can be found on the World Checklist of Selected Plants Families Search Page published by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. This list is reflected on Wikispecies Orchidaceae and the new eMonocot website Orchidaceae Juss.

This taxonomy undergoes constant change, mainly through evidence from DNA study. Orchids were traditionally defined by morphological similarity (structure of their flowers and other parts). However, recent changes to nomenclature have been driven primarily by DNA studies and also by re-examination of herbarium specimens. This has led to a reduction of genera and species as well as re-circumscription of sub-families, tribes and sub-tribes. Orchid taxonomy is still being revised and each year about another 150 new species are being discovered. The list of genera alone currently stands just short of 1000 entries.

From a cladistic point of view, the orchid family is considered to be monophyletic, i.e. the group incorporates all the taxa derived from an ancestral group.