Anthurium andraeanum, or the flamingo lily, is an epiphytic evergreen tropical perennial native to Colombia and Ecuador.
The flowers of the flamingo lily are composed of a yellow spike known as a spadix sticking straight up from a large, waxy red bract or modified leaf known as a spathe (typically about six inches in diameter). A species in the genus Strelitzia, bird of paradise displays some of the most colorful exotic flowers in the world. Bird of paradise grows up to five feet tall, and if grown from seed, will take about five years or so to display its exotic flowers. A great deal has been written about orchids in the past few years, but one of the joys of these exotic flowers is that there's always more to discover. It seems counterintuitive that such a large and well-known flower family as Orchidaceae could still be considered mysterious and exotic.
If we seem reluctant to dig into the details of these exotic flowers, it's only because there are so many. Orchids are a lifelong commitment, producing the sort of madness so famously documented in Susan Orlean's book The Orchid Thief. These exotic flowers look a bit like miniature versions of Titan arum, though they don't smell anything like the famous "Corpse Flower." Other exotic flowers in the Anthurium genus feature spathes colored white, orange, or pink. Heliconia's exotic flowers are panicles, or loose branching clusters of flowers, usually long, and either erect or drooping in habit.
But then you might say that the orchid is the Johnny Depp of flowers, loved by the masses and the cognoscenti. Taxonomical phrases like Oncidium Alliance sound more like potential Star Trek movie subtitles than groups of related orchids.
With their hot, bright colors, they look like something you'd buy at a carnival and eat with dipping sugar.
The cultivar "Sassy" features panicles that are light green on the bottom and orange in the middle, with a black band just beneath the white tip. And it takes commitment to be able to reel off genus names like Odontoglossum, Paphiopedilum, and Cymbidium. Its wing-like exotic flowers flaunt a dizzying blend of whites, oranges, blues, greens, and yellows. Some orchids actually look like exotic flowers, while others appear to be experiments in alien DNA.
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