(Orchidaceae) form the largest family of native plants in Tasmania,
with 206 native species in 32 genera. In addition one South
African species has become naturalised in Tasmania.
The orchids are fairly conservative in growth habit, with almost all
the Tasmanian species being small terrestrial herbs (usually with
annual shoots growing from underground tubers), although one species
is an epiphyte and one grows on rocks. Some of the terrestrial
species are saprophytic (i.e. using decaying plant material as their
energy source rather than photosynthesis) and have no leaves.
Globally the majority of species are epiphytic.
In contrast to their conservative habits. the flowers of orchids
reflect a relatively simple plan that has diversified into an
astonishing range of forms. The key to identifying orchids is to
understand the parts of the flower (see information below).