8 February 2013
Last updated at 09:14
More than 4,550 orchids, 550 bromeliads and 350 assorted foliage plants have been installed in The Princess of Wales Conservatory at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London, for the annual Orchid Festival.
Kew is home to one of the world’s oldest and most comprehensive collections of orchids.
With more than 25,000 different species, the orchid is the largest plant family in the world. However, nearly 10% are believed to be endangered in their native habitats.
There are as many as 5,000 species of orchid not yet described, with new orchids being discovered at a rate of 200-300 a year.
Kew discovers 12-15 new orchids a year. A small part of the orchid collection is shown in rotation in the conservatory all year round.
The festival showcases a vibrant array of colour as plants adorn glass pillars, arches and elegant hanging baskets.
Visitors can also view some of the more unusual examples of the orchid which may not be as familiar as species and their hybrids which have been extensively cultivated.
Orchids were extremely sought after in the 1800s, when many nurseries and their wealthy clients sent out orchid hunters to collect the plants from the wild and ship them back to Europe.
Cooler temperatures suit the delicate orchids which live on mountains in tropical countries or in more temperate regions such as the UK.
Orchids depend on fungi and animals to germinate their tiny seeds. Two-thirds of orchids are thought to need specific insect pollinators.
Kew discovers, describes and names orchids from around the world and safeguards them from extinction in the Millennium Seed Bank. The Botanic Gardens also studies their evolutionary origins and investigates their uses.
Staff and volunteers have also recreated the Victoria amazonia from orchids in the central pond. It captures an artistic impression of the famous giant waterlily flower. The Orchids Fesitval runs until 3 March 2013. Photos: Emma Lynch/BBC