ORCHIDS (Orchidaceae Family) in Piatra Craiului
Short history
The Orchidaceae are considered to be a relatively recent group in the history of plants evolution. The oldest orchid fossil dates back to the Miocene era and is approximately 15 million years old (Euchorchis miocaenica - discovered at Öhningen- Wangen near Bodensee). But this is only an estimated age of the family. However, the "youth" of the family is obvious when compared to the fossils of other seed plant families, which date back to Tertiary and Cretacic, being 60 to 100 million years old.

The young age of the family may also be associated with an obvious character: the unusual variability of the group. This variability is noticeable both from the point of view of the large number of orchidaceae species but from the variability inside the same species as well. There is no other plant family known to display such a strong tendency to form hybrids as the Orchidaceae, which create a strong impression of being a group in continuous evolution.

The orchidaceae are famous for their spectacular adaptations to insect pollination. The large amounts of seeds produced by the orchids are disseminated by the wind or the insects, over large distances.
In order to germinate, the seeds need a certain fungi together with which it forms a micorrhiza, otherwise the chances for a seed to germinate are quite low. Consequently the orchids need to produce as many seeds as possible, in order to insure their continuity. The more seeds the orchids produce, the smaller the seeds are.
The relation between the orchids seeds and the fungi may be defined as a symbiosis, both partners benefiting from it. The fungi provides the seed with the water, mineral salts and probably the organic compounds as well, and it gets carbohydrates and other organic compounds in return. Some species depend on this symbiosis all their lives, loosing totally or partially their ability to produce chlorophyll (Neotia nidus-avis), being able to live just as well in dark shadow conditions. Other orchids, with stalks and green leafs, produce chlorophyll and keep the fungi as micorrhiza as well.

Orhidaceae protection 
The Orchidaceae Family represents one of the most endangered plant groups worldwide. The worst danger for the orchids is the drastic reduction of the proper habitats for their survival. The danger is not only represented by habitat reduction, but by the continuous alteration of the environment all over the world. The orchids are very sensitive to the changes of the land management ways. They can not overcome increases in grazing, drainage, etc., thus the group may be considered a real indicator of a particular habitat’s health, or of the pressure the habitat is subjected to. Few species are able to withstand the continuous pressure man exercises on the natural habitats: for instance Epipactis heleborine and Listera ovata (found in Piatra Craiului as well), are able to populate the forests and plantations affected by intensive human activity. The old, traditional and rational methods of using the land have been benefic for the spread of theses species.

The Piatra Craiului National Park houses 41 orchid species, out of the 58 found in Romania. Most of the orchid species in Romania are included in the "Red List of superior plants in Romania". These species are protected worldwide as well, by many laws.

The list of Orhidaceae species in Piatra Craiului

Anacamptis pyramidalis - Bujor ; Cephalanthera damasonium ; Cephalantera longifolia ; Cephalantera rubra ; Chamorchis alpina ; Coeloglosum viride ; Corallorhiza trifida ; Dactylorhiza cordigera ; Dactylorhiza incarnata ; Dactylorhiza maculata ; Dactylorhiza majalis (Orchis latifolia ) ; Dactylorhiza saccifera ; Dactylorhiza sambucina - Bozior ; Dactyloriza fuchsii ; Epipactis atrorubens ; Epipactis helleborine ; Epipactis microphilla ; Epipogium aphyllum ; Goodyera repens ; Gymnadenia conopsea - palma pamantului ; Gymandenia odoratissima ; Gymnoleucorchis x strampfii (hybrid) ; Herminium monorchis ; Leuchorchis albida ; Liparis loeselli - Mosisoare ; Listera cordata ; Listera ovata - buhai ; Neotia nidus-avis - mosnegei, tranji ; Nigritella nigra - Sangele voinicului ; Nigritella rubra - Sangele voinicului ; Orchis coriophora - plosnitoasa ; Orchis mascula - poroinic ; Orchis militaris - poroinic ; Orchis morio - poroinic, untul vacii ; Orchis purpurea - poroinic, bujori ; Orchis tridentata ; Orchis ustulata ; Platanthera bifolia - stupinita ; Platanthera clorantha ; Pseudorchis albida ; Traunsteinera globosa ;