The Cayman Islands’ national flower, the wild banana orchid, is now in bloom at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, North Side.
Found only in Cayman, the wild banana orchid blooms just once a year, offering a rare treat for orchid enthusiasts.
Image credit: Nick Johnson
There are two varieties; Myrmecophila thomsoniana var. thomsoniana originates from Grand Cayman and Myrmecophila thomsoniana var. minor originates from the sister islands, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
The wild banana orchid has scented, purple-lipped flowers which are mainly white on Grand Cayman and smaller and pale yellow on the Sister Islands. The orchid is named for its large pseudobulbs, or above-ground food storage organs, which resemble clumps of banana.
Botanic Park manager, John Lawrus, is encouraging families to take time out to visit the park to experience Cayman’s national flower in its native surroundings.
“I encourage you to stop by the park sometime over the next month as this opportunity is pretty rare; the banana orchid only blooms once a year,” he said.
The Botanic Park offers resident rates of $5 for adults, and free admission for children under 12, and seniors over 60.
Here are three other things you can see and do while at the Botanic Park:
1. See Cayman’s Blues
The Botanic Park is the only place in the world where you can view one of the rarest critters on earth – the blue iguana.
Named for their distinctive blue hue, these magnificent creatures were listed as one of the most endangered animals on earth when their numbers dropped to around 15 in 2002. Thanks to the Blue Iguana Recovery Programme, the blue iguanas have been brought back from the brink of extinction and now number some 1,000. Tours of the breeding facility can be arranged and offer a great way to learn more about this indigenous species.
2. Step back in time
Step back in time and visit the park’s Heritage Garden, which features a traditional Caymanian house dating back to circa 1990. The house is filled with items from a bygone era, giving visitors a fascinating glimpse into Cayman’s past. The garden also includes a caboose, outhouse, and pretty sand garden filled with fruit trees and medicinal plants commonly grown by Cayman’s early settlers.
3. Walk the Woodland Trail
The Woodland Trail is just under a mile long and is a great way to view a wide range of Cayman’s natural flora and fauna. The trail passes through unusual or significant habitats, giving those that walk it a unique and fascinating experience, including areas of swamp land, dry land, as well as areas which have enough soil for larger trees to grow such as mahogany, creating a lofty shady canopy to walk under.
If you'd like to learn more about the Cayman Islands, and things you can do in the local area, visit our sister website Your Cayman.