Cattleya is a tropical genus of epiphytic and lithophytic plants that produce fairly to exceptionally showy flowers, and by many their species and hybrids are considered THE orchid.

There are basically two groups of Cattleyas, the so-called unifoliate and bifoliate. The unifoliate group includes Cattleya labiata, the type species of the genus. Other species in this group include C. mossiae, C. mendellii, C. warscewiczii, C. dowiana, and C. percivaliana. The species in this group produce small to large-sized (up to 8'') flowers in colors ranging from yellow to lavender (excluding the color forms, that add a lot of variation); the plants grow fusiform pseudobulbs topped with one fleshy, flattened, elliptic leaf.



The bifoliate group, including such species as C. bicolor, C. amethystoglossa, C. elongata, and C. harrisoniana, produces smaller flowers (up to 5'' or more, depending on the species), but in larger numbers (up to 40+ on a spike, also depending on species), in colors ranging from green to yellow to brown and pink to lavender; the plants grow tall, cylindric, pencil-like, ringed pseudobulbs that can be up to 5'+ tall in a couple of species - but in most get only to 1' to 2'). The genus was named by John Lindley in honor of William Cattley, a foremost British plant grower of the first half of the 19th Century

Number of species: The World Checklist of Monocotyledons currently recognizes 46 species and 35 natural hybrids. Many species exhibit a plethora of color forms.

Distribution: Tropical America, Asia