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Cattleya is a genus of plants within the orchid family Orchidaceae. The approximately 114 species grow mostly epiphytic (tree-dwelling) or lithophytic (rock-dwelling) in South America. They are quite common in cultivation because of their large, colorful flowers.
Based on the number of stem leaves per shoot axis, two groups are distinguished, the so-called unifoliate (single-leaved, e.g., Cattleya labiata) and the bifoliate (double-leaved, e.g., Cattleya intermedia) Cattleyas. The unifoliate species occur mainly in the Andes of Ecuador, Colombia, and Venezuela with only two species in eastern Brazil; the bifoliate species have their main range in southeastern Brazil. Adaptation and geographic distribution have resulted in numerous variations in growth and flowering. Unifoliate cattleya require a dormant period (in winter) for flower initiation, while bifoliate Cattleya come into flower without a break.
The genus Cattleya was established in 1821 by John Lindley in Collectanea Botanica, No. 7, Plate 33. The genus name Cattleya honors the British orchid gardener William Cattley (1788-1835).
The genus has been renamed several times in recent years (i.E. Guarianthe, Sophronitis), for the moment we stick to the old nomenclature, which is still valid.
Closely related to Cattleya are the genera Aulizia, Brassavola, Epidendrum, Encylia, Euchile, Hoffmannsegella, Laelia, Leptotes, Nanodes, Rhyncholaelia, Schomburgkia, Sophronitis and many more.