NEW YORK (CBS) --Orchid lovers are descending on the Bronx in New York City, for a dazzling display of some of the most gorgeous and popular flowers on the planet.
There's a tropical rain forest taking root in New York City at the Botanical Garden's annual Orchid Show.
The show is designed by Francisca Coelho, who was inspired by her childhood in the Caribbean. She says, "I grew up in Trinidad among the rainforest plants, and I really loved playing in the rainforest as a child. When you go into a rainforest you look and see where plants actually grow: what's growing in the canopy, what's growing low on the ground, and what strikes you as you walk through the rainforest."
There are more than 30,000 naturally occurring orchid varieties. Add in manmade hybrids and that number is 150,000. And they don't just grow in the rainforest. In fact, orchids can be found on every continent except Antarctica. As a result, they have fans around the globe. They are the most popular potted plant in the world and sell for anything from a few dollars, to one that sold for around $290,000 at auction!
Marc Hachadourian has been growing orchids since he was 10-years-old. He says, "Scientifically, orchids are considered to be among the most highly evolved of all plants because of the specialized relationships they have with their pollinators, which can be anything from hummingbirds, bees, flies you name it."
One of the most unusual orchids is the Darwin Star, with its white flower fragrant only at night, and its twelve inch-long tail with nectar at its tip. Hachadourian says, "When Charles Darwin was presented with this orchid, he theorized that there was a moth with a tongue long enough to reach that nectar. Forty years later, that moth was discovered, and there's this moth, it's only got a wing span of 4 or 5 inches that has the longest, I guess this is a fun reference, the longest tongue-to-body ratio of any organism on earth."
And if the science behind orchids is fascinating, their beauty is spectacular. Coelho says, "Orchids have this long-standing history of being this very mysterious and exotic blossoms and I think that it is the legend and lore throughout history that's built the plant's reputation and elevated it to the status that allows us to celebrate it."