The orchids represent one of the richest plant families in the world: there are more than 25,000 different types, spread all over the entire surface of the earth, with the exception of regions with very cold or desert climates.
The greatest number of species can be found in the inter-tropical belt, while the number drops significantly in the temperate regions, where Italy is located.
However, Italy is the European country with the highest number of orchid species (about one hundred).
They’re herbaceous plants that have an underground part from which a scape with end leaves and flowers develop, gathered in inflorescences in spring (mainly in May and in autumn for the only genus Spiranthes).
Orchis italica / © Carlo Falanga
The orchids’ flowers, besides being particularly elegant, delicate and colourful, are extremely evolved to adapt to pollination by insects (entomophilous pollination).
In the Vesuvius National Park, 19 species of Orchidaceae have been classified. In spring they colour the undergrowth with delicate shades, from white to pink, from lilac to fuchsia; their bloom is short and you have to be patient and careful to seize the moment when you can admire beautiful blooms.