The diversity and endemism of Jamaica’s flora is reflected in the island’s flora. There are 60 genera and over 220 species of orchids. Thirty percent of the Jamaican orchid’s population is endemic (approx. 66 species).
This high diversity may be accounted for by the variety of environmental habitats found on the island. Orchids are usually epiphytes (found on trees), there are some that may be terrestrial or lithophytic (found on rocks). Most Jamaican species may be found in high mountainous and forested regions where they are adapted to the shade and the moisture of these regions. However, a few species may be found acclimatized to drier, sunny lowland and coastal regions.
The orchidaceae family is very unique with a range of different physical forms. Orchids are herbaceous monocotyledonous plants which are, mostly perennial. The stem of an orchid can be round, flattened or angular. They are often swollen and form structures called pseudobulbs. Most orchid plants have leaves that are alternate, some may be close to one another at one end of a short stem. The structure of the leaf varies and can be soft, thin, fleshy or thick. An orchid is distinctive mainly because of its floral characteristics. The flower is raised on a pedicel which rotates 180˚ during growth; the mature flower is now upside down. There are 3 petals and 3 sepal present and they are usually the same in colour. A distinctive feature of an orchid is the lip, two of the petals are lateral petals and the third is either lobed or cupped and is referred to as the lip or labellum.
Orchid Flower A: A- Lip or Labellum B- Lateral Sepal C- Dorsal Sepal D- Petal E- Column
Orchid Flower B: A-Pedicel B-Ovary C-Anther D-Staminode E-Lip
This orchid page seeks to introduce our visitors to the different species of orchids found in Jamaica. The gallery below shows examples of orchids taken on various field trips throughout the country. Most of Jamaica’s ochids are epiphytes and will be found attached to trees or on other hosts. This will be seen in most of the photographs.