Orchids In The Cayman Islands by NomadInMe,
About Orchids Of The Cayman Islands
There are 28 known orchid species that can be found in the Cayman Islands. Of these 28, 4 are endemic and found know where else in the world. Here you can find pictures, descriptions and scientific classifications for all of them.
The purpose of this article is to present these orchids in a single easy to read list. The information on this list was sourced from several websites.
Endemic Orchids Of The Cayman Islands
Myrmecophila thomsoniana – Grand Cayman / Cayman Brac
This orchid is a small sized, hot growing epiphyte in scrubby bushes close to the sea and exposed to full sun with curved, hollow, pseudobulbs carrying a few apical, elliptic-ovate leaves that blooms in the spring and summer on an erect, to 120 cm long, sometimes branched inflorescence from which arise several to many 12 to 20 successively opening, fragrant flowers occurring over a long period.
Myrmecophila thomsoniana var. minor is a variation found on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac with the main difference being predominantly yellow petals.
|Species: Myrmecophila thomsoniana|
Pleurothallis caymanensis – Grand Cayman
Found in Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands in semideciduous forests at low elevations, generally in vegetation on limestone as a mini-miniature sized, hot growing lithophyte with erect ramicauls enveloped by 2 scarious sheaths and carrying a single, apical, erect, coriaceous, thickened, rigid, yellowish green and verrucose on the upper surface, green and rough beneath, ovate to broadly elliptic to suborbicular, acute, acuminate to apiculate, crenulate to erose margins, cuneate below into the channeled, petiolate base leaf that blooms in the spring on 2, terminal, ascending, .4 to 2″ [1 to 2.5 cm] long, successsively 2 to 3 flowered inflorescence arising through a basal sheath
Dendrophylax fawcettii – Grand Cayman
Found on Grand Cayman in hammock like vegetation on trees and rocks as a small sized, hot to warm growing leafless epiphyte or lithophyte with a miniscule stem carrying numerous, gray-green, fasciculate, flat when adpressed to the substrate roots without leavs, that blooms in the later spring on an erect or ascendant, to 2 3/4″ [to 7 cm] long inflorescence with 1 to 2 bracts and carrying a single, showy, resupinate, diurnally fragrant flower.
Encyclia kingsii – Little Cayman / Cayman Brac
Found on Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands near the ocean close to sealevel as a medium sized, hot growing epiphyte with ovoid-conical pseudobulbs carrying a single, rigid, coriaceous, linear, obtuse to rounded, conduplicate basally leaf that blooms in the spring on a terminal, slender, suberect, 22.8 to 30″ [57 to 82 cm] long, paniculate, distally few branched, each branch to 4.8″ [12 cm] long, to 8 flowered inflorescence that is much longer than the leaf and bears several, fragrant flowers.
Other Orchids In The Cayman Islands
Beloglottis costaricensis – Grand Cayman
Beloglottis costaricensis, commonly called Costa Rican Ladies’ Tresses, is distributed in the West Indies, Central America and extends into South Florida. This orchid produces 4-5 basal ovate leaves which may wither at the time of flowering. The slender inflorescence has 8 to 40 small, white flowers with green striping. It blooms in January through April growing in the humus that accumulates in depressions in hardwood hammocks. This orchid was first reported in Florida in 1953 and remains isolated to the Everglades National Park.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beloglottis_costaricensis – https://goorchids.northamericanorchidcenter.org/species/beloglottis/costaricensis/
Bletia florida – Grand Cayman
Found in Colombia, Cuba and Jamaica as a medium-sized, hot to warm growing terrestrial with subglobose, transversely annulate above pseudobulbs carrying a few, linear to lanceolate, long-acuminate, basally gradually attenuate below leaves that blooms in the winter through spring on an erect, to 32″ to 36″ [80 to 90 cm] long, laxly many-flowered inflorescence with triangular-linear, acute floral bracts and carrying in the upper 1/3, showy, successive opening flowers that are very long-lasting.
Brassavola nodosa –Grand Cayman
Brassavola nodosa is a small, tough species of orchid native to Mexico (from Tamaulipas south to Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula), Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America (Venezuela, Colombia, Guyana and French Guiana). It is also known as “lady of the night” orchid due to its citrus and gardenia-like fragrance which begins in the early evening. It has been widely hybridized and cultivated for its showy flowers and pleasing scent.
Cyclopogon cranichoides – Grand Cayman
Cyclopogon cranichoides, commonly known as Speckled Ladies’ Tresses, is distributed in the West Indies, Bahamas, Central America, South America and Florida. This plant has 4-6 leaves that grow in a basal rosette and are ovate in shape, green in colour, and suffused with purple. The leaves wither at or just after flowering. This orchid produces 10-30 flowers with sepals and petals that are greenish-brown and the lip is white suffused with pink. The flowering period is late February to late April. The habitats for this plant are damp, shady forests and moist oak woodlands. In wet areas, plants can reach 30-40 cm in height, but in drier live oak forests they only grow to 5 cm.
Cyclopogon elatus – Grand Cayman
Cyclopogon elatus, commonly known as the Tall Neottia, is distributed in the West Indies, Mexico, Central America, northern South America and in Florida where it is exceedingly rare. This plant has 4-6 elliptic green leaves that grow in an erect basal rosette and wither at or just after flowering. It flowers in March, producing 10-30 flowers with appressed sepals and petals greenish brown in color and the lip is white marked with tan. Cyclopogon elatus prefers the damp, shady forests of southern Florida’s hardwood hammocks.
Cyrtopodium punctatum – Grand Cayman
A large-sized, hot to warm growing epiphyte, lithophyte or terrestrial native of Florida, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina in arid areas at elevations of 20 to 1400 meters with clustered, erect, fusiform elongate, many noded pseudobulbs enveloped by grey white sheaths when young and carrying linear to elliptic-lanceolate, acute to acuminate, distichous, spreading or recurved, elongate at the subpetiolate base, plicate leaves that blooms in late spring on a basal, branching, heavily bracteate, up to 5′ [to 150 cm] long, many flowered inflorescence arising with a new growth, commonly called the cigar orchid because of it’s pseudobulb’s shape, it has deciduous leaves that it loses in the fall ,and thus should have less water in the winter, than when it is growing. The inflorecense appears just after the new lead for a pseudobulb begins to appear.
Dendrophylax porrectus – Grand Cayman
Dendrophylax porrectus, the Needleroot Orchid, is a small, leafless orchid with chlorophyllous roots found in Florida, and in the Greater Antilles, southeastern Mexico, and El Salvador. The numerous roots are a silvery grey-green in colour and barely 1 mm wide. The non-resupinate flowers are pale yellow and are produced in August and September. The capsules are reddish-brown when mature, larger than the flowers, and hang in little clusters, suggesting its other common name the “jingle bell orchid”. This orchid is often found on old citrus trees and near the edges of hardwood swamps and hammocks.
Eltroplectris calcarata – Grand Cayman
This is a small-sized, hot to cool growing terrestrial orchid found from south Florida through the Caribbean to Trinidad, Colombia, Ecuador and Brazil at elevations of 400 to 1000 meters alongside streams in semi-deciduous forests with 1 or 2, elongate, thin, oblong-lanceolate, purply green, ventrally brown spotted, petiolate base leaves that are rarely present at blooming, occuring in late winter and spring on a 3′ 4″ [1 meter] long, erect, pubescent, racemose, loosely few to several  flowered inflorescence that has basal sheaths and carrying fragrant flowers.
Encyclia phoenicia – Chocolate Orchid – Cayman Brac – Little Cayman
This species comes from the Bahamas, Cuba, Cayman Is. and Grand Turks and Caicos as a medium-sized, hot growing epiphyte that is found near seacoasts at lower elevations with 1 to 3, apical, lanceolate, coriaceous, basally conduplicate into the petiolate base leaves that blooms in the spring through fall on a terminal, erect to arcuate, 3′ [90 cm] long, racemose, several to many , successively flowered inflorescence arising on a mature pseudobulb and carrying flowers with a strong scent of chocolate.
|Species: Encycl. phoenicea|
Epidendrum nocturnum – Grand Cayman
Found in Florida, Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Windward Islands, Leewards Islands, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Fr Guiana, Surinam, Brazil, Peru and Bolivia in wet montane forests as a large sized, reedstem, hot to cool growing epiphyte at elevations of 100 to 2000 meters, but at higher elevations it is found on rocks in leaf detrius, with a leafy, compressed, erect stem enveloped basally by a few tubular, scarious, acuminate sheaths and carrying leathery, linear-oblong to oblong-ligulate, sessile, acute leaves held towards the apex of the stem that blooms in the summer through fall with a terminal, to 3/4″ [2 cm] long, occassionally branched, 1 to few flowered raceme which can produce flowers for more than one season, giving rise to, fragrant eucalyptus to anise scented [often nocturnally], large, showy, successively opening flowers occuring over months on newly mature and older pseudbulbs.
Epidendrum rigidum – Little Cayman – Grand Cayman
Found in Florida, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Leewards, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Windwards, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Argentina in tropical wet and montane forests as a medium sized, cool to hot growing epiphyte in tropical rainforests and tropical semi-deciduous forests, as well as mangrove and other lowland communities at elevations of sealevel to 1350 meters with reed-like stems enveloped basally by several, imbricate, acuminate, scarious sheaths and carrying 3 to 6, clustered at the apical half, narrowly elliptic, subcoriaceous, unequally bilobed apically and basally clasping leaves that has a terminal, short to 6″ [15 cm], erect or arching, fractiflex raceme arising on mature canes that has a laterally compressed rachis with prominent conduplicate, spaced, floral bracts that are longer than the ovaries, with 2 ranked, minute successive opening flowers that appear in the spring and fall.
Ionopsis utricliuoides – Grand Cayman
It is a miniature to medium sized, cool to hot growing epiphyte, which reaching up to 17 cm in height, with ellipsoid, compressed, up to 3 cm long pseudobulbs that bear a single, apical, linear to oblong-elliptic, acute leaf and 2 to 3, 3-17 cm long and 1.2-2.0 cm wide linear or lanceolate, carinate, stiff and imbricate leaves. The Delicate Violet Ionopsis surround and enfold the rhizome and, a basal, erect, up to 75 cm long, branching panicle, terminating in densely numerous flowers that open in succession over months. The size of the flowers varies from 1.2 to 2.0 cm in length. The flowers can be in every shade from pure white to deep purple, but most often they are lilac or white with red-purple veins on a large, 2-split lip, the length of which is twice as long as the length of the outer whorls. The petals of both whorls may or may not have red-purple longitudinal veins.
Oeceoclades maculata – Grand Cayman
O. maculata is a terrestrial orchid native to Africa and Madagascar with invasive behaviour. Currently, this species is found throughout the Neotropics, making it one of the most successful invasive plants and it is included in the World Compendium of Weeds. Among the traits that likely have contributed to the successful spread and invasion of this species within its new environment are a wide environmental tolerance, efficient reproductive system, and fast growth. O. maculata is autogamous and apomitic and each fruit can produce thousands to millions of small seeds. O. maculata is a fast-growing species able to grow from seedling to reproductive stage in approximately one year
Polystachya concreta – Little Cayman
Polystachya concreta, commonly known as the Yellow Helmet Orchid, is widely distributed throughout much of the subtropical and tropical areas of the world including the southern counties of Florida. This orchid produces 2-5 thin, lanceolate-linear leaves from the tip of a pseudobulb and 10-60 non-resupinate, waxy flowers that are arranged on a panicle. The labellum is pale yellow with a white pubescent crest at the base. This orchid can usually be found on the trunks and branches of many tree species in open woodlands, cypress swamps, in hammocks and mangroves.
Prescottia oligantha – Grand Cayman
Found as a miniature to medium sized, warm to cool growing, inconspicuous terrestrial in Florida, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman, Leewards, Puerto Rico, Trinidad & Tobago, Windwards, Guyana, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina at elevations of 685 to 2400 meters in deep shade under trees in hammocks or forests with 2 to 3 ovate to suborbicular, acute, shortly petiolate base leaves that blooms on an erect, terminal, glabrous, purpley, slender, 16″ [40 cm]] long, densely many flowered inflorescence with lanceolate, acuminate, concave, spreading floral bracts with up to 50 non-resupinate flowers occuring in February in Florida, March to May in Cuba.
Prosthechea boothiana – Dollar orchid – Grand Cayman
Found in Florida, Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba, Caymans, Mexico, Guatemala and Belize in dry scrub forest and tropical deciduous forests as a miniature to small sized, hot to cool growing epiphyte found from sea level to 1500 meters in elevation with suborbicular, compressed, lusterous yellow green pseudobulbs carrying 1 to 3 apical, oblanceolate, acute to obtuse, rigid leaves that are always pulled to one side that blooms in the summer, fall and winter on an apical, 2 to 10″ [5 to 25 cm] long, simple inflorescence arising from a newly formed pseudobulb that is longer than the leaves and has 1 to 5, long-lived, waxy flowers.
Prosthechea cochleata – Cayman Brac
The ‘cockleshell orchid’ has upside down flowers with smooth, ovoid to oblong-elliptic, compressed pseudobulbs partially enveloped basally by several, imbricate, scarious sheaths with 2 to 3, apical, elliptic, acute, gradually narrowing below, basally clasping leaves and can bloom for 6 months starting in the spring with an apical, erect, short to 15″ [to 37.5 cm], few to many flowered, racemose inflorescence with a basal sheath that has successive opening, non-fragrant to spicy scented flowers. They originate from Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Cayman Islands, Leewards, Puerto Rica, Windwards, French Guiana, Surinam, Guyana, Venezuela and Colombia as a medium sized epiphyte found in dense tropical evergreen, deciduous and oak forests at altitudes up to 1900 meters that grow warm to cool and require even water and fertilizer throughout the year.
Sacoila lanceolata – Grand Cayman
Sacoila lanceolata, commonly known as the Leafless Beaked Orchid, is one of the most striking orchids native to Florida and is widely distributed throughout Central and South America. The terminal raceme usually has 10-40 coral to brick red flowers covered with fine hairs. Some plants may be green-flowered and have been recognized as forma albidaviridis. This orchid can be found growing in sandy or organic substrates along highway shoulders, pastures and poorly drained pine flatlands.
Tolumnia calochila – Grand Cayman
Found in Hispanola in xerophytic conditions in dry scrub at sea level up to 1500 meters in altitude as a miniature to small sized, fan-shaped, hot to warm growing epiphyte with small pseudobulbs and 3 to 5 terete leaves with very short, erect stems enveloped by l to 3 , imbricate, disitichous, fleshy to coriaceous, bilaterally flattened, channeled on the upper side, linear-aciculate, acuminate, leaves that blooms in the spring on a basal, spreading, 4″ [10cm] long, laxly 1 to 6 flowered, racemose, wiry inflorescence that has lanceolate, acuminate bracts and carrying fragrant flowers.
|Species: Tolu. calochila|
Tolumnia variegata – Grand Cayman
Found in Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Leeward Islands as an miniature sized,equitant, creeping, epiphyt found in dry scrub, woods or on fence posts from sealevel to 700 meters with very short, erect stems enveloped by 4 to 10, imbricate, disitichous, fleshy to coriaceous, bilaterally flattened, channeled on the upper side, linear to elliptic-lanceolate, falcate, acute to acuminate, serrulate leaves that blooms on an erect, simple or branched, to 32″ [to 80 cm] long, laxly few flowered inflorescence that has lanceolate, acute bracts and has new branches and flowers appearing after the first blooms all occuring in the spring, summer and fall with 1″, long-lasting flowers. I have the best luck mounting these miniature beauties to small branches, giving them medium light and plenty of air circulation.
Triphora gentianoides – Grand Cayman
Triphora gentianoides, commonly known as Gentian Noddingcaps or the Least Flowered Triphora, is found in the West Indies, Central America, northern South America, and southern counties in Florida. This plant has 3-10 brownish green ovate leaves that clasp the stem and an inflorescence of 3-10 whitish yellow, pale green flowers develops in late June through early August. The greenish-white lip is 3 lobed. Triphora gentianoides may occur in gardens, mulched areas, and occasionally in natural areas and there is some question whether this orchid is a native or naturalized species.
Native Range: Peninsular Florida, the West Indies, Mexico, Central America and South America.
Tropidia polystachya – Grand Cayman
Tropidia polystachya, commonly known as the Young Palm Orchid, is distributed from the tip of Florida south through the West Indies, from Central America, Venezuela, and the Galapagos Islands. This plant produces 1-5 dark green pleated leaves and the young stems may be partially concealed by bladeless tubular sheaths. The inflorescence is densely flowered with greenish white partially open flowers arranged in a terminal panicle. The labellum is white with a bright yellow disc in the central portion. This orchid blooms in late September through October in deeply shaded, moist hardwood, limestone hammocks.
Vanilla claviculata – Grand Cayman
Found in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands on shrubs, trees and on limestone rocks in montane forests at elevations around 200 to 360 meters as a large sized, hot growing scandent, climbing, epiphyte with a stout stem with internodes and roots arising from them carrying small fleshy, rigid, subsessile, apiculate, recurved, oblong-lanceolate, to triangular, basally clasping only 1/4 of the terminal shoots and missing on the main stem leaves that blooms in the spring on an axillary, 5 1/4″ [14 cm] long, to 12 flowered, racemose inflorescence with short-lived, fragrant flowers
If you have any questions regarding the information on this list, or know of any updates, please leave a comment bellow or get in touch via the contact form. If any information or photographs on this list belongs to you and the credits do not reflect this, please contact me. If you would like to learn more about what to do in the Cayman Islands, follow this link: https://nomadinme.com/what-to-do-in-grand-cayman/
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