Orchids make up the largest family of flowering plants, with an estimated 25,000-30,000 species in the world. Over 1,150 species have been identified so far in Panama (although it is believed that thorough field research would discover much more), 10% of which are endemic – meaning they only grow in Panama. It is an amazing fact that this tiny country – slightly smaller than South Carolina – boasts much more varieties than those found in Canada and the United States combined.
Here at APROVACA, we have collected over 100 different native species, a handful of which are considered as endangered. For this reason, APROVACA has tried to obtain our plants from laboratories that produce them by seed, instead of relying on collecting orchids from the wild. And we keep a great majority of our orchids that are currently in bloom in a small display room surrounded by stonewalls, which is probably the most attractive part of our orchid center.
Note that you may not find so many blooming orchids as expected. It is important to remember that most orchid species only bloom once a year and for a limited period of time, which ranges from less than one day (!!) to a few months depending on the species. That is why it is a good idea to visit APROVACA repeatedly, and each time you will find different types of orchids blossoming. Also, native orchids of Panama include many so-called miniature species, of which the flowers are literally miniscule and therefore easily missed. So be sure to look carefully!
Outside of the orchid display room, you can also spot hundreds of orchids attached directly to living trees and on soil. Two among them are particularly noteworthy. The thick vine climbing up on a giant tree just behind APROVACA’s main building is a vanilla orchid. You may wonder whether vanilla is an orchid species, but the truth is it actually is. The terrestrial orchids with a shoe-like lip growing all over the premise are affectionately called lady-slipper orchids or simply lady slippers. Just a glimpse of them will convince you that “lady slipper” is not a misnomer.
Other than taking a look at our huge collection of orchids, visitors can also purchase the stunningly beautiful and long-lasting Moth Orchids, Phalaenopsis, and over 20 different kinds of herbs and medicinal plants for reasonable prices. Buying them is a great way to help us sustain our conservation efforts!
Here are the links to the most interesting features of our orchid center mentioned above:
Phalaenopsis | Vanilla orchid | Lady-slipper orchids | Medicinal plants
For further information on our center, check out APROVACA's promotion video on YouTube.