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Black Orchids at Monkey Bay Marina PDF Print
Black Orchid at Monkey Bay
Black Orchid Growing at Monkey Bay Marina

Story and photographs by Jody Aston, Editor
June 22, 2015

Orchid-lovers alert! John at Monkey Bay Marina has been growing some beautiful “black” orchids. Although he claims he’s not much of a grower and his thumb is blacker than the orchid, the blooms of these two plants are proving his thumb is a little greener than he admits.

This species, Prosthechea cochleata, is commonly called the Black Orchid of Belize, because it is the country’s national flower. The name is a bit misleading, as the color is more a deep purple than black, along with colorful strokes of yellow and orange.

This orchid is unusual in a couple of different ways. First, the normal morphology of an orchid looks something like a 5-pointed star, with two petals and three sepals and a lip (labellum) in the middle that hangs down. This flower, though, has the lip on the top, looking sort of like a hood, with the petals and sepals hanging below. Essentially, it’s an upside-down orchid!

The other unusual characteristic is that the flowering season is not limited, as it blooms all year. The Black Orchid is becoming a rarity, due to the destruction of its natural habitat, so we are lucky to have some on the Rio Dulce. If you get a chance, call John and ask if you can drop by Monkey Bay to have a look at this weird and wonderful beauty.

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