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What is Maxillaria?

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  • Written By: Alex Paul
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 26 April 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Maxillaria is a genus of orchids that contains a large number of different species. The orchids contained within the genus vary greatly in appearance and characteristics. Species of the genus can be found all over the tropical regions of the United State and they grow from areas that are at sea level to several thousand feet high. Other names for the Maxillaria genus include the tiger orchid and flame orchid. In total there are close to 600 different species of Maxillaria although some have recently been reclassified into other groups.

The name Maxillaria comes from the Latin for “jawbone.” This was originally used as many of the plants have features that look like a small jaw. As the species included in the genus are so diverse it is not usually possible to immediately distinguish between them and orchids of other families. Not all plants of the genus have the distinctive jaw.

Maxillaria plants are usually found in the rain forest. They are found in both subtropical and tropical regions of the United States and have a wide distribution. This shows the range of requirements for different plants within the genus. Many of the species are large in size and grow quickly. The flowers of plants within the genus are usually relatively small compared to other orchids.

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There are, however, some examples that have larger flowers. One feature of the genus is that the leaves of the plant are always longer than the flowers. There is also a large amount of variation in how the pseudobulbs of the plants grow with some growing in clusters and others with some distance between them.

Although there are a large number of different and interesting species contained within the genus, the plants are not commonly grown by orchid enthusiasts. This is mainly due to most of the plants having relatively small flowers that aren’t as colorful or attractive as other species. There are, however, a few species that are collected for their smell. One of the most popular is the Maxillaria tenuifolia which is one of the darkest orchids that exists at the moment.

There are two main groups of the genus. The first is those that have a lip and column that are united. Often species in this group have smaller flowers. If the lip and column are articulated then the species is classified into the other group. These plants usually have bigger flowers.

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