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What is Odontocidium?

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  • Written By: Christian Petersen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 November 2016
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Odontocidium is a hybrid genus of orchids. This artificial genus was created by breeders by crossing orchids from the genus Oncidium with orchids from the genus Odontoglossum. Breeders of orchids have long taken advantage of the ability of orchid species to freely pollinate and cross with each other to produce thousands of new orchid genera, species and varieties.

Odontocidium is a large group of orchids, as many different species from the two parent genera have been crossed to produce different hybrid species. They are typically epiphytic in nature, meaning that they would grow on trees if found in nature, but relying on these other plants for support only. They are not parasitic and do not harm the host, which is merely a base for growth. Flowers resemble those of either parent, or a flower with a combination of characteristics from both parents.

Breeders created this hybrid genus in an effort to create new orchids with the most favorable characteristics of species from both parent genera. Odontoglossum orchids are notoriously difficult to grow, being very sensitive to variations in temperature and humidity, but are prized for their beautiful flowers. Oncidium orchids are much easier to cultivate, and have a wide range of variation in flower structure and color.

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Odontocidium orchids are favored by novice growers because they are fairly easy to grow and flower. They provide a fine display of beautiful flowers in many possible colors including yellows, whites, purples, maroons, browns and many with combinations of these colors. The plants share structural characteristics with Oncidium orchids; they form bracts, bulbous formations that gradually increase in number as the plant ages. Stems with slender, stiff leaves grow from stems sprouting from these bracts and flowering stems grow from the base of the leaves.

These orchids are still used by breeders in a continuous enterprise of creating new orchid varieties and hybrids. Odontocidium orchids possess many qualities favored by breeders, and they often use established Odontocidium species and varieties as the basis for new orchids. Thousands of new orchids are developed each year.

Many Odontocidium species are still produced by commercial growers and collected by orchid enthusiasts. "Tiger Crow" is a favorite. An offspring of two well-known Odontocidium parents, it has golden yellow to yellow flowers with a prominent, brighter yellow ruffled lip. The lip, petals and sepals are decorated with maroon spots.

Odontocidium orchids are commonly available for purchase from many different orchid breeders and can be easily ordered through the mail. They can sometimes be found at greenhouses and plant retailers in larger towns and cities, or sometimes through orchid clubs and organizations.

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