It’s blooming time for Cayman’s national flower

| 06/06/2019
CNS Local Life
Wild banana orchids in bloom (Photo by Nick Johnson)

(CNS Local Life): The wild banana orchid, Cayman’s national flower, is now in bloom but if you don’t make it out to the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park within a month or so, the display will be over for another year. The orchid is endemic – found only in the Cayman Islands – and originates from Grand Cayman, with the other subspecies of banana orchid found here native to Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Those two orchids are both classified as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, with two other species endemic to Cayman – the ghost orchid and King’s Encyclia, considered critically endangered.

Grand Cayman’s wild banana orchid has predominantly white petals with purple lips, and gets its name from the pseudobulbs found at the base of the plant that resemble bunches of bananas.

Nick Johnson, horticultural manager at the Botanic Park, pointed out other special characteristics of the orchid, explaining that it has a symbiotic relationship with ants, and is pollinated by beetles, not bees.

“The Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park plays host to ten of the 28 orchid species recorded from the Cayman Islands, and four of these are endemic, found nowhere else on earth,” he added.

Encouraging people to come out to see the wild banana while it is in bloom, Johnson said, “At the park, we are actively engaged in conserving the Cayman Islands’ native plants. We want to share our love of nature with future generations, this is why we are building a world class children’s garden which will educate through play and discovery.”

The Botanic Park is open daily from 9am to 5:30pm with last admission at 4:30pm. For more information call 947-9462 or go to its website

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Category: Environment

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