The orchid family is not only the largest but one of the most diverse plant flowering families in the world. The orchid was one of the first plants to evolve on earth, it was around in the time of the dinosaur, over 120 million years ago. Given the length of time they have been around it shouldn’t be surprising that there are over 35,000 species with hundreds of thousands of hybrids.
The most famous orchid in the world is the vanilla orchid (planifolia). Coca Cola is the largest customer of vanilla, they use the seed for flavoring. Madagascar is the world’s largest producer. Orchids are very beautiful plants and that is why so much time and care is put into growing them. Vanilla on the other hand is grown for its commercial value rather than for its appearance but it is labor intensive. The vanilla crop is the main source of income for many independent farmers in less developed countries.