The genus Cattleya contains about 38 species, which exclusively grow in South and Central America. Two of the most important areas are the Andes and South Eastern Brazil.
The genus Cattleya received its name in honour of William CATTLEY, one of the first English gardeners to make epiphytical orchids bloom.
The genus was described by LINDLEY in 1824. The first species to be described was Cattleya labiata.
Cattleya is closely related to Laelia. Only the number of pollinia differs between the two genera (Laelia has 8 pollinia, Cattleya 4). Cattleyas are popular for their big and colourful flowers. Cattleyas are popular because of their large, colorful flowers. The genus Cattleya is divided into 2 groups: the unifoliate Cattleya. This group includes Cattleya club-shaped bulbs with a terminal leaf, and should get a rest in cool and dry place in winter. The two-leaves (bifoliate) Cattleya have elongated cylindrical pseudobulbs with two terminal leaves and flower after the shoot has finished. Bifoliate Cattleya do not need rest during winter.