Explore Cayman’s indigenous orchids and then some at this year’s Annual Orchid Show.
By Shurna DeCou
It is hard to imagine living on a tropical island without the exotic beauty of orchids. The sheer range of delicate petals and intricate designs and their refreshing fragrance seem to invite our imagination to paradise. Admirers of these stunning flowers should not miss the Annual Orchid Show at Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, off of Frank Sound Road on February 25 and 26. Sponsored by the Botanic Park and the Cayman Islands Orchid Society, this event showcases over a hundred species of orchids originating from tropical regions of the Americas and the Eastern Hemisphere.
The two versions of Cayman’s national flower, the indigenous Wild Banana, will be on display. Admirers will also want to seek out Cayman’s endangered Ghost Orchid, although it is unlikely to be in bloom until May or June.
“There are 26 orchid species that have been recorded in the Cayman Islands, and you can find nearly 10 of the species right in the Botanic Park,” says John Lawrus, general manager of the Botanic Park. “Four of these orchids are endemic and are found nowhere else on earth. Some species of orchids can live up to 100 years old.”
With some 25,000 different species and the largest variety of flower, orchids can be found almost anywhere with the exception of the coldest winter tundra and the driest deserts. Researchers are uncovering new findings about these incredible plants and new species are being continuously discovered.
Orchids are some of the most highly evolved flowering plants and feature almost every colour, shape and size. “There is an inherent mystery that comes with growing orchids,” explains Lawrus. “Most people seem to think that orchids are exotic, rare and very difficult to grow. Thankfully, here in the Cayman Islands, we are blessed with a climate that is conducive to growing many species and hybrids of orchids.”
Local expert Kirkland Nixon says the Orchid Society has been rescuing plants such as the Ghost Orchid from land slated for development and successfully re-establishing them in the Botanic Park for nearly 20 years.
“It’s quite rare in the wild,” says Nixon. “Florida and Jamaica also have indigenous [species of Ghost orchids], which are slightly different from ours.”
The Orchid Society recently found a new species commonly found in Cuba blooming in the wild of Grand Cayman.
The Botanic Park event will include orchid demonstrations and more than 1,000 orchids available for sale. Proceeds from the Orchid Show benefit the ongoing development of the Orchid Boardwalk at the Botanic Park.
Cayman’s Four Indigenous Orchids
#Banana Orchid (Grand Cayman): Myrmecophila thomsoniana – can grow to six feet tall and features white flowers with purple lips.
#Banana Orchid (Sister Islands): Myrmecophila thomsoniana var. minor – features yellow petals and purple accents.
#Ghost Orchid: Dendrophylax fawcettii – a leafless orchid that typically blooms in April and June with a beautiful white-scented flower.
#Tolumnia Caymanese (Grand Cayman): this tiny orchid has small delicate bright white pink flowers.