The Orchid family (Orchidaceae) is one of the most numerous plant families in the world with close to 20.000 species (Dressler 2003). In Costa Rica this condition has no exception; in this country, between 1300 and 1400 species of this family make their home.
Orchids are herbaceous plants with perennial habits (rarely annual), terrestrial, epiphytic (they grow on another plants or trees but they are not parasite) or lithophytes (they grow on rocks), occasionally climbing, sometimes saprophytic (they eat wastes from other organisms) and, rarely, micoheterotrofytes (which require a fungus for photosynthesis).
Epiphytic orchids can reportedly become eternal. In fact, in the wild, their life span is directly dependent on the life of the tree that sustains them. Some plants that were collected in the mid-nineteenth century are still growing and flourishing in many known collections.