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Renowned throughout the world for its beautiful orchids !!

By happy alchemy of mind, They turn to pleasure all they find. ~ Matthew Greene, 1696-1737

Costa Rica is renowned throughout the world for its beautiful orchids. Exotic blooming orchids are the largest family of flowering plants in the world and they thrive in warm, humid climates. The many varieties sport hundreds of flower styles, from tiny delicate petals running along the stem to bold blossoms and big thick green leaves.

Costa Rica claims up to 1,500 different varieties, 75% of which are epiphytes, and provides much of the world’s commercial supply. Epiphytes (from the Greek for “upon plants”) attach to host trees and gain their nourishment from airborne dust and rain. These are not parasitic relationships because they do not feed on their hosts. In the amazing world of nature, many tree orchids make use of variety-specific pollinators – bees, ants, hummingbirds, wasps and moths – for fertilization. The purple guaria orchid (Cattleya skinneri) is the national flower.

Did you know ? Orchids were named by Dioscorides, a Greek physician who likened the species tubers to male testicles – “orches.” Ground-dwelling epiphytes (Costa Rica boasts some 170 species) are known as bromeliads, named for Swedish botanist, Olaf Bromel.

The most famous bromeliad is the pineapple. Bromeliads provide a tiny, selfcontained eco-system in their protected core where water collects. A great place to see and learn about all these magnificent flowers is Lankaster Botanical Gardens outside Cartago.

Ferns are orchid relatives, and they are grown as cash crops in Costa Rica. Those large black mesh tents that cover the hillsides at cooler elevations are usually protecting ferns grown for export.

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