32 Most Exotic Orchid Varieties and Types

Orchids, with their symmetrical flowers and enchanting scents, are a diverse group of plants that include rare, animal-resembling, and terrestrial varieties, each with its own unique allure. Epiphytic orchids, which naturally grow on trees, are best potted in transparent containers to allow sunlight to reach their roots, while terrestrial orchids flourish on the ground, with some even blooming beneath the soil.

Ideal for enthusiasts and gardeners alike, these exotic orchids prefer bright, indirect light to thrive, offering a world of extraordinary beauty for those seeking to explore beyond the common household plant.

Most Endangered Exotic Orchid Varieties

The allure of rare orchids lies in their unique shapes and vivid colors, making them a sought-after prize for collectors and enthusiasts who delight in the thrill of the hunt.

Yet, the scarcity of these botanical gems is a stark reminder of their fragility, with some species on the edge of extinction and only a few specimens still thriving in the wild.

1. Zeuxine Rolfiana

exotic orchid varieties
Zeuxine Rolfiana

Zeuxine rolfiana orchid, a critically endangered orchid with fewer than two dozen known specimens, is distinguished by its delicate white flowers and is native to Mount Harriet on South Andaman Island, India.

As a deciduous terrestrial orchid, it adds a rare beauty to the forest floor, growing directly from the ground in its limited and protected habitat.

2. Hawaii Bog Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
Peristylus Holochila (Hawaiian Bog Orchid)

The Hawaii Bog Orchid, a critically endangered species with an estimated 28 to 33 individuals in the wild, graces the Hawaiian Islands with its subtle yellowish-green petals and bright green foliage.

As a terrestrial orchid, it is a rare jewel among plants, quietly thriving on the forest floors of its island home.

3. Vietnamese Paphiopedilum

exotic orchid varieties
Source: Pinterest (@flickr.com)

The Vietnamese Paphiopedilum, while feared extinct in its natural habitat, survives through the efforts of orchid collectors who preserve its breathtaking beauty, characterized by flowers with a gradation from pinkish-white to magenta and a distinctive yellow stigma.

These collectors’ passion ensures the continued appreciation of this rare orchid’s stunning display.

4. Western Underground Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
Western Underground Orchid

The Western Underground Orchid is an extraordinary rarity, flourishing beneath the earth’s surface by deriving nutrients from surrounding fungi instead of photosynthesizing.

This unique orchid reveals just a singular pink bloom with darker edges and a reddish stigma, completely devoid of leaves, challenging our traditional understanding of plant life.

5. Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum

exotic orchid varieties
Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum

This Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum is celebrated for its captivating purple hue, white stripe, and distinctive slipper shape, leading to its popularity and extensive cultivation.

Yet, its allure has also resulted in over-collection in the wild, rendering it a rarity in its natural environment.

6. Sang’s Paphiopedilum

exotic orchid varieties
Source: Pinterest (@Nani Permana)

Native exclusively to the mountain forests of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, the Paphiopedilum sangii orchid stands out with its light purple petals graced by green-yellow accents and a distinctive coat of tiny hairs along its stem and flower edges.

This rare species shares a resemblance with Fairrie’s Paphiopedilum but is distinguished by its unique coloration and textured details.

7. Liem’s Paphiopedilum

exotic orchid varieties
 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

exotic orchid varieties
Hochstetter’s Butterfly Orchid (Platanthera Azorica)

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

exotic orchid varieties
Caladenia Melanema (Ballerina Orchid)

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

Orchids with animal-like shapes provide a unique and beautiful divergence from typical floral forms, captivating onlookers with their striking color patterns and intriguing appearances.

Let’s dive in and explore these extraordinary botanical wonders that effortlessly command attention.

10. Monkey Orchid

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

exotic orchid varieties
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.

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

exotic orchid varieties
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

exotic orchid varieties
White Egret Orchid (Habenaria radiata)

The terrestrial White Egret Orchid captivates with its pure white sepals, elegantly resembling the outstretched wings of its namesake bird in mid-flight.

Despite its ethereal beauty, this orchid is facing a rapid decline, placing it among the rarest and most endangered species.

14. Clamshell Orchid

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

The Clamshell Orchid, native to Central America, draws the eye with its distinctive blooms that mimic an open clamshell, featuring purple stripes set against a green backdrop.

Thriving in low light, this epiphytic orchid adds a touch of the tropics to any collection with its unique floral display.

15. Pink Moth Orchid

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

The Pink Moth Orchid captivates with its vivid pink flowers and a central pattern suggestive of a protective moth, offering a striking visual allure.

As an epiphytic plant, it can gracefully adorn trees in a garden or thrive on a north-facing windowsill, away from the harshness of direct sunlight.

16. Donkey Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
 Donkey Orchid (Diuris)

The Diuris orchid, often called the “Donkey Orchid,” is recognized for its vibrant yellow flowers adorned with crimson strokes and distinctive sepal formations that resemble donkey ears.

Blooming from early autumn to early winter, this plant thrives in cooler environments, adding a unique charm to the season’s landscape.

17. Owl Orchid

Owl Orchid
Owl Orchid

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

Bee Orchid
Bee Orchid

The Ophrys apifera, or Bee Orchid, captivates with blooms that strikingly mimic a bee, featuring a brown lip and wing-like sepals that add to its allure.

This unique orchid defies the common preference for warmth by thriving in winter conditions and favoring the bright, indirect light found in cooler months.

19. Goat Orchid

Goat Orchid (Diuris venosa)
Source: flickr (@Will Brown)

The Diuris venosa, known as the Veined Doubletail, is celebrated for its goat-like blooms, with elongated white-lilac sepals and a broad lip that together resemble a goat’s face atop a tall stem.

Complemented by slender, grass-like green foliage, this orchid presents a charmingly whimsical visage that captivates the observer.

20. White Phalaenopsis Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
White Phalaenopsis Orchid

The Anggrek Bulan or Moth Orchid is distinguished by its striking leopard-like patterns on its lips, a hallmark of its beauty in both Indonesia and India.

As an epiphytic orchid, it clings to trees for light, and thrives with ample air circulation to ensure its roots stay dry.

21. The Dove Orchid

The Dove Orchid
The Dove Orchid

This orchid captivates with its remarkable resemblance to a petite dove nestled within its sepals, complete with violet-tipped ‘wings’ that add to its exquisite appearance.

Thriving in the humid climates of Central and South America as well as India, this epiphytic plant is a tropical treasure that enchants onlookers.

Rare & Unique Exotic Orchid Varieties

Discover orchids with rare and intriguing forms that mimic landscapes, objects, and ethereal figures, each boasting vibrant colors that are sure to astonish.

These exotic varieties, adaptable to various seasons, can be elegantly displayed by hanging on garden trees, allowing their striking roots to be part of the visual charm.

22. Gold of Kinabalu Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
Gold of Kinabalu Orchid

The Gold of Kinabalu Orchid is aptly named for its striking gold blooms with contrasting black stripes, a unique yellowish pouch, and distinctive long, striped sepals.

Thriving in the tropics, this rare and costly flower prefers the understated elegance of low-light environments for optimal growth.

23. Ghost Orchid

Ghost Orchid
Ghost Orchid

The Ghost orchid, with its ethereal white blooms, evokes the image of Casper the friendly ghost floating in the air, anchored by tall stems.

Thriving on the bark of oak and ash trees, this epiphytic orchid merges the eerie with the natural world in a fascinating display of botanical adaptation.

24. Stealth Orchid

Stealth Orchid
Stealth Orchid

The Paphiopedilum Stealth stands out with its unusual black, hairy sepals and a hood that contrasts with white and deep purple edges.

This distinctive orchid is a hybrid of Paphiopedilum Hsinying Maru and Paphiopedilum rothschildianum, exuding a uniquely mysterious charm.

25. Western Prairie Fringed Orchid

exotic orchid varieties
Source: flickr (@Larry Reis)

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 Orchid

Blue Disa (Disa graminifolia)
Source: flickr (@0rchidhunter)

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

Skyblue Sun Orchid (Thelymitra jonesii)
Source: Pinterest (@Elena Chevalier)

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

Devil Orchid (Telipogon diabolicus)
Source: Pinterest (@phys.org)

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

exotic orchid varieties
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

exotic orchid varieties
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

exotic orchid varieties
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.

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 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.

Final Thought

Exotic orchids are a testament to nature’s diversity and creativity, showcasing a stunning array of forms, colors, and adaptations that range from the rare and endangered to those mimicking animals and thriving in unique environments.

Their beauty and rarity captivate enthusiasts and collectors worldwide, offering a glimpse into the intricate relationships within ecosystems and the importance of conservation.

Whether epiphytic or terrestrial, these orchids highlight the extraordinary beauty and complexity of the plant kingdom, making them a fascinating subject for study and admiration.

Latest Posts:

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

What are exotic orchids?

Exotic orchids are varieties known for their unique patterns, shapes, and wide range of colors, extending beyond the familiar Cattleya orchids.

Examples include the flying duck orchid, lady’s slipper orchid, and fairrie’s paphiopedilum, each showcasing the distinctive beauty of this group.

What makes exotic orchids unique?

Exotic orchids stand out for their astonishing diversity, with thousands of species offering varied flower shapes, colors, sizes, and blooming habits.

Their unique traits, from long-lasting blooms to fragrant flowers, make each variety a fascinating addition to any collection.

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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *