exotic orchid varieties

32 Most Exotic Orchid Varieties and Types

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Orchids or Orchidaceae are basically flowering plants that have distinct monosymmetrical characteristics, they grow flowers that reflect each other in terms of size. With their exquisite and spectacular blooms, exotic orchid varieties can easily make everyone fall in love with their beauty. Even some of them can also emit scents that add to their captivating characteristics.

There are different varieties of orchids that you can grow. And here, you will discover exotic orchids varieties that you can choose to fill the void space in your home.

From the rarest orchids that are almost extinct, animal-like blooms, to the terrestrial orchids, all those exotic orchids have their own uniqueness you may never see before.

Some orchids can grow on trees (epiphytes), and some thrive on soil (terrestrial). The epiphytes are usually grown in transparent pots, so the roots can absorb sunlight exposure since they grow on the side of the tree in nature. Meanwhile, the terrestrial plants tend to expand on the ground, while some scarce plants bloom underground.

Furthermore, most of them favor bright light but not direct sunlight since it can harm the flowers. Suppose you are a gardener or merely someone who has a particular interest in orchids.

In that case, this list will indeed become a starting point to further step into the exotic orchid varieties world.

Most Endangered Exotic Orchid Varieties

Speaking about orchids, it is incomplete without noticing their rarest types. The rare orchid family has unusual shapes and distinctive color pallets. Many exotic orchid varieties lovers hunt them for fun since they are pretty hard to find.

Unfortunately, some rare orchids are nearly extinct, with few are still grow naturally in the wild. 

1. Zeuxine rolfiana

With only around 18 found, Zeuxine rolfiana marks itself as the rarest and critically endangered orchid in the world. It was first found in Mount Harriet, South Andaman Island, India.

Zeuxine rolfiana
 Zeuxine rolfiana,(image credit: efloraofindia)

Moreover, this species has petite white flowers hanging down from the blooms and belongs to the type of deciduous terrestrial orchids (ground growing).

2. Hawaii Bog Orchid (Peristylus holochila)

Like Zeuxine rolfiana, Hawaii Bog Orchid is also a critically endangered exotic orchid species, with approximately 28 to 33 found in the wild throughout three different Hawaiian islands.

Hawaii Bog Orchid (Peristylus holochila)
Hawaii Bog Orchid (Peristylus holochila),(image credit: larry zettler,hank oppenheimer/goorchids.northamericanorchidcenter)

Unlike other orchids varieties with vibrant colors, this species is characterized by its yellowish-green petals with bright green egg-shaped leaves. It also belongs to the terrestrial types, just like the previous species.

3. Vietnamese Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum vietnamense)

 Vietnamese Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum vietnamense)
Vietnamese Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum vietnamense),(image credit: naoki takebayashi/Flickr)

It is being said that this rare orchid species may have extinct in the wild. However, thanks to the orchids collectors, we still can witness Vietnamese Paphiopedilum beauty flowers.

This species blooms stunning flowers with a beautiful gradation of pinkish-white and magenta on the sepals with a yellow touch in the stigma. 

4. Western Underground Orchid (Rhizanthella gardneri)

As weird as it looks, this species is one of the world’s rarest and most unique exotic orchid varieties. It magically grows underground without doing any photosynthesis as it absorbs the nutrients from the fungi around them.

Western Underground Orchid (Rhizanthella gardneri)
Western Underground Orchid (Rhizanthella gardneri),(image credit: spider orchid/Flickr)

Furthermore, speaking about appearance, Western Underground Orchid has only a pink bloom with a darker shade on the edges and its sepals protecting the reddish stigma – no leaves. 

5. Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum fairrieanum)

 Fairrie's Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum fairrieanum)
Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum fairrieanum)

The striking purple shade with white stripe and Lady’s slipper shape is a distinct attribute of this rare species. Thanks to these attractive appeals, Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum is now famous as one of the favorite orchids with a high cultivated rate.

However, the Fairrie’s is massively collected in the wild, making it hard to find in its natural habitat.

6. Sang’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum sangii)

Sang’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum sangii)
Sang’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum sangii),(image credit: wikipediacommons)

Paphiopedilum sangii is one of the rarest orchids that is only native to mountainous forests in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The appearance is similar to the Fairrie’s, yet with lighter purple and green-yellow touches at the base of the petals.

In addition, tiny hairs can be seen covering the entire stem and the edges of the flowers.

7. Liem’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum liemianum)

Liem’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum liemianum)
 Liem’s Paphiopedilum (Paphiopedilum liemianum)

Liem’s Paphiopedilum lip is very similar to Lady’s slipper that features a purple shade with a creamy hint at the edges of the blooms. Its small flowers look like a bird flapping its wings, creating a stunning look.

Unfortunately, this North Sumatera plant is still widely traded despite being scarce.

8. Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera azorica)

Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera azorica)
Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera azorica),(image credit: martin mitchell,zeca/Pinterest)

No wonder Platanthera azorica is considered Europe’s rarest orchid knowing the habitat is secluded in Azorean Island, Portugal. Slightly similar to Peristylus holochila, it highlights bright green flowers with yellow hints on the blooms.

Moreover, the blooms closely mimic butterfly wings, adding an exciting sight to its appeal.

9. Ballerina Orchid (Caladenia melanema)

Ballerina Orchid (Caladenia melanema)
Ballerina Orchid (Caladenia melanema),(image credit: tendencee/Pinterest)

Instead of its scientific name, this scarce native Australian plant is well-known as Ballerina Orchid. It is identified by the spider-like flowers with a single elevated green leaf, creating the beauty of dancing Ballerina.

Moreover, the flowers have cream with maroon markings and bloom in late winter.

Exotic Orchid Varieties That Look Like Animals

Even though orchids are flowering plants, some have odd shapes that resemble animals. The appearance actually makes them look beautiful and different from other species. Plus, they have an incredibly striking color combination that indeed steals everyone’s attention.

Without any further ado, let’s check them out!

10. Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia)

Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia)
Monkey Orchid (Orchis simia)

This weird-looking orchid indeed resembles a hanging monkey. Thanks to its four petals that curled up and lengthened like monkey legs.

Furthermore, you cannot just resist the astonishing bright purple colors on the “hands” and “legs” that make these flowers look surreal!

11. Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)

It seems like the sepals are well-coordinated to create an eye-catching shape of a flying duck. You can also notice a great aligned duck beak marked with yellow on this Australian-native flower.

. Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)
Flying Duck Orchid (Caleana major)

Moreover, the terrestrial plant features a purple ‘duck’s body’ with petals that slightly curl outward to form the wings, while the head is constructed of curved blooms.

12. Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)

Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)
Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera)

Just like its name, this exotic orchid looks precisely like a fly perched on green blooms. The insect figure has red to brown colors formed from folded hairy petals. A silver mark is also seen in the center of the “body,” which seems like a pair of wings.

13. White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata)

White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata)
White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata)

This terrestrial plant has the most effortlessly charming look among all exotic orchids, with only the white shade to the sepals. They also form beautiful tassels that turn them into the breath-taking wings of a flapping White Egret.

Sadly, it is one of those rarest orchids that experience a rapid decline.

14. Green Squid/Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata)

Green Squid/Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata)
Green Squid/Clamshell Orchid (Prosthechea cochleata)

Its shape, which is similar to an opening clamshell, is the main characteristic of this Central America-native plant. The beautiful flowers perfectly bloom, showing purple stripes with a green brush as the background color.

Other than that, the Clamshell orchids are a plant that favors low light and are listed among epiphytic orchids.

15. Pink Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.)

Of all the exotic orchids, the bright pink bloom is all you can notice when looking at the Pink Moth Orchid plant. There is a picture of a moth protecting the nectar in the center of the flower that makes an attractive appeal.

 Pink Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.)
 Pink Moth Orchid (Phalaenopsis sp.)

Moreover, this moth orchid is one of the epiphytic orchids that easily hang on trees in your garden or just put it north-facing windowsill to avoid direct sunlight.

16. Donkey Orchid (Diuris)

Donkey Orchid (Diuris)
 Donkey Orchid (Diuris)

Yellow flowers with crimson strokes are the key features of this flowering plant. The sepals are perfectly seated on the tips, creating a couple of “Donkey ears” that turn into a beautiful addition to its appearance.

Moreover, Diuris usually blooms from early autumn to early winter; thus, it prefers a cooler site to grow. 

17. Owl Orchid (Miltoniopsis ‘Lila Fearneyhough’)

Owl Orchid (Miltoniopsis ‘Lila Fearneyhough’)
 Owl Orchid (Miltoniopsis ‘Lila Fearneyhough’),(image credit: orchidweb.com)

Miltoniopsos, a native South American plant, is known for its exquisite magenta strokes on the white blooms of round owl eyes. The stigma has a yellow color that mimics an owl’s beak with a brown splash on its lip. Moreover, the flowers bloom in spring and are dormant in the summer.

18. Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)

Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)
 Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera)

It is one of many orchids that feature bloom resembling insects. Ophrys apifera lip brown looks like a body bee with two narrow folded sepals as the wings, adding to its beauty.

Unlike most, this exotic plant can grow during winter and favor bright light, but not direct light.

19. Goat Orchid (Diuris venosa)

Goat Orchid (Diuris venosa)
Goat Orchid (Diuris venosa),(image credit: Rob/Flickr)

The beauty of Diuris venosa terletak pada blooms yang membentuk seperti goat. Its tall stem stands tall with a pair of elongated white-lilac sepals for the ears, while the broad lip and the hood turn into the goat’s head.

It also has green grass-like foliage that erects from the base of the plant.

20. White Phalaenopsis Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)

White Phalaenopsis Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)
 White Phalaenopsis Orchid (Phalaenopsis amabilis)

Known as Anggrek Bulan in Indonesia and Moth Orchid in India, this exotic plant has a leopard-like pattern, especially on the lips. It is one of the epiphytic orchids, meaning that the roots attach to trees where they can absorb light exposure.

Like many orchids, it is better to have good air movement to keep the pots dry.

21. The Dove Orchid (Peristeria elata)

The Dove Orchid (Peristeria elata)
The Dove Orchid (Peristeria elata)

Another bird-looking orchid that will amaze you just by looking at it. A petite dove is hiding inside the sepals, bearing two wings with violet brushes on the tip that looks absolutely gorgeous.

Moreover, this epiphytes plant grows in the tropics, specifically in Central America, South America, and India, where the climate is pretty humid. 

Rare & Unique Exotic Orchid Varieties

Looking for some rare and unique shapes orchids to shop? Then you have just found them! Below are some exotic orchid varieties resembling landscapes, objects, and ghosts with colorful shades that will blow your mind.

Despite most are growing in summer, some may also thrive in winter. They will indeed be perfect to hang on trees in your garden while exposing their dashing roots.

22. Gold of Kinabalu Orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum)

Gold of Kinabalu Orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum)
Gold of Kinabalu Orchid (Paphiopedilum rothschildianum)

There is no doubt that this flower is named the Gold of Kinabalu since it indeed shows off its stunning gold color with black stripes on its blooms. It also bears a yellowish pouch-like lip and two long-dangled pinstripe sepals.

This rare and expensive flower grows in the tropics, yet it favors low light to develop optimally.

23. Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii)

Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii)
Ghost Orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii),(image credit: RF CA/Flickr)

Judging from the name, you may be able to guess what the flower looks like. This bizarre species highlights white color all over the blooms with a floating position similar to Casper, an animated ghost character, thanks to its tall stems.

In addition, the Ghost orchid is one of the epiphytic orchids growing on the rough bark of oak and ash trees.

24. Stealth Orchid (Paphiopedilum stealth)

Slightly different from most, Paphiopedilum stealth is black with tiny hairs covering its long sepals. Nonetheless, the hood of this venus slipper genus still has white-deep purplish on the edges.

Stealth Orchid (Paphiopedilum stealth)
 Stealth Orchid (Paphiopedilum stealth),(image credit: slippertalk.com,orchidplantcare.info/Pinterest)

Furthermore, this flower results from a hybrid between Paphiopedilum Hsinying Maru and Paphiopedilum rothschildianum. Stealth that produces a unique yet a bit creepy look.

25. Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara)

Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara)
Western Prairie Fringed Orchid (Platanthera praeclara),(image credit: LarryReis/Flickr)

Seeing from a bird-eye view, you can tell that this one is similar to White Egret Orchid. Beautiful white tassel-shaped sepals create a dramatic look of the birds’ wings and tails.

In addition, the hood is also exquisite, which seems to be a space for birds to take shelter from the sun.

26. Blue Disa (Disa graminifolia)

 Blue Disa (Disa graminifolia)
Blue Disa (Disa graminifolia),(image credit: orchid hunter/Flickr)

When you look at this bloom, you may be stunned by its striking blue shade, especially the very prominent tip. The hood seems to be painted with a mixture of white to create a beautiful gradation with a touch of green.

Although it is exotic, you can shop Blue Disa in the form of seeds or flowers. It will indeed be such beauty for your garden.

27. Skyblue Sun Orchid (Thelymitra jonesii)

Skyblue Sun Orchid (Thelymitra jonesii)
Skyblue Sun Orchid (Thelymitra jonesii),(image credit: lvayloZaykov,Zeca/Pinterest)

Having six sepals of the same size makes the Sky Blue orchid looks like the sun. The uniqueness of this flower, which is endemic to Tasmania, lies in its azure blue color with darker stripes on its veins that attract attention.

Furthermore, an erect green leaf accompanying these mini flowers adds to its beauty.

28. Devil Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)

Devil Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)
Devil Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus),(image credit: kim cunningham,earth touch/Pinterest)

If you search for a weird orchid, then you have found one. This new species will give you goosebumps once you see it, thanks to its eerie devil head with perfectly formed horns from gynostemium.

It also features dark crimson color and a “screaming-looking face” that surely gives you long-lasting creeps.

29. Dragon’s Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa)

Dragon’s Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa)
Dragon’s Mouth Orchid (Arethusa bulbosa)

Arethusa bulbosa or Dragon’s Mouth Orchid grows bright pink to magenta bloom atop green grass-like stems and slowly form colonies. The lip also bears distinct patterns, with yellow in the middle as its unique characteristics.

In addition, it grows best in acidic soil with good light exposure

30. Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium reginae)

Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium reginae)
Queen’s Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Cypripedium reginae)

The Queen’s Lady’s Slipper looks like a venus slipper orchid. They have unique lips forming a slipper, only this one has spectacular pink with white brush blooms.

Meanwhile, its white sepals bloom like ribbons as a “slipper” accessory, making the orchid looks exceptionally stunning. 

31. Swaddled Babies Orchid (Anguloa uniflora)

If you look closely, these blooms look exactly like babies being swaddled. The interior yellow center part of the flower forms the baby’s head as if wearing a hat.

Swaddled Babies Orchid (Anguloa uniflora)
Swaddled Babies Orchid (Anguloa uniflora)

At the same time, the sepals function to wrap the baby like a blanket. As it is found in South America, it favors a high humidity environment since it can simulate the growing conditions in nature.

32. Dracula Orchid (Dracula vampira)

Dracula Orchid (Dracula vampira)
Dracula Orchid (Dracula vampira)

As scary as it looks, Dracula vampira has the appearance of a vampire cloak, featuring black color on all its blooms with a touch of yellow in the mid. In addition, the shape of the sepals that are a bit long dangling adds a bold statement to its spookiness.

Moreover, just like a fictional vampire, Dracula orchid loves cool temperatures, so it may thrive in winter.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are exotic orchids?

You may be familiar with Cattleya orchids, but there are more exotic orchid varieties you can explore. Exotic orchids are those having distinct patterns, shapes, and broad color palettes that characterize this group.

For instance, flying duck orchid, lady’s slipper orchid, fairrie’s paphiopedilum, and more.

What is the rarest orchid in the world?

The rarest orchid in the world is Zeuxine rolfiana. The flowering plant now only has 18 pieces worldwide, thus it is listed under critically in danger plants. It was first found in Mount Harriet, South Andaman Island, India. 

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