Background: Due in great part to their often complex interactions with mycorrhizal fungi, pollinators and host trees, Orchidaceae present particular challenges for conservation. Furthermore, orchids, as potentially the largest family of angiosperms with >26000 species, species complexes and frequent hybrid formation, are complex to catalogue. Following a highlight in 2015, a further seven papers focusing on orchids, their interactions with beneficial organisms, pollinators and mycorrhiza, and other factors relating to their conservation, including threats from human utilization and changing land use, are presented here. Conclusions: The production of an online flora of all known plants and an assessment of the conservation status of all known plant species as far as possible, to guide conservation action are the first two targets of the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation. Without knowing how many species there are and how they should be circumscribed, neither of these targets is achievable. Orchids are a fascinating subject for fundamental research with rapid species evolution, specific organ structure and development, but they also suffer from high levels of threat. Effective orchid conservation must take account of the beneficial interactions with fungi and pollinators and the potentially detrimental effects of over-collection and changes in land use. © The Author 2016. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Annals of Botany Company. All rights reserved.