World’s largest orchid in bloom at Botanic Park

Horticultural manager Nicholas Johnson, right, and gardners Earl Lewis, center, and Andrew Williams show off a specimen of the largest orchid in the world.

A Grammatophyllum speciosum, believed to be the largest species of orchid in the world, is flowering at the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park.

Also known as the “Queen of Orchids” or “Sugar-Cane Orchid,” the flower will be in bloom for at least a month and could reach heights of up to 8 feet tall.

“If you have ever wanted to see the world’s largest orchid in bloom in the Cayman Islands, now is your time to view it,” said Park Manager John Lawrus. “The first flowers are opening now, and the scent of the orchid is just starting to float on the breeze. Follow the signs in the Colour Garden to see and smell this amazing plant or view it from the gazebo by the lake in the Colour Garden.”

“It’s the third time the orchid is coming into flower and has produced more flower spikes than ever this year,” he said.

A previous article in the Cayman Compass stated a Grammatophyllum speciosum bloomed at the park in 2016.

Mr. Lawrus said the species of orchid lives among the branches of tall trees in the rainforests of its native habitats in Southeast Asia, with some specimens reaching 33 feet in diameter.

The genus name Grammatophyllum, he said, comes from the Greek “gramma” (letter) and “phyllon” (petal or leaf) and refers to the dark markings that look like writing etched onto the bright yellow petals of the flower.

In the wild, this orchid is pollinated by large bees. The flowers at the base of the stem are simple and infertile, but produce huge amounts of scent, which attract the bees to the more complex, fertile flowers at the top of the spike.