Villa Quetzal

Villa Quetzal

Friday, January 13, 2012

"Costa Rican Orchids"

Most Exotic Flowers in the world.

Have you ever seen Orchids without feeling that they are the most beautiful, the most sensual, and the most exotic flowers?  I grew up having that thought about orchids.  Living in Costa Rica has increased my admiration for Orchids, and has given me the gift of being able to grow them, enjoy them, and share them. 

I felt so blessed the other day by receiving four little Catlleya Orchids  from my neighbor, he  started them from cuttings form older plants just a month ago, he gave them to us just because he had too many and wanted to share.  Wow!  What a nice gift!

Orchids are, by far, the largest and most diverse family of plants that produce flowers and although they do not grow on top of glaciers or in the hottest deserts, they appear just about everywhere on earth.  Central American countries have been blessed with an enormous number of orchids and Costa Rica has the richest abundance of these breathtaking beautiful flowers.

Over 1,200 distinct species of orchid plants have been identified in Costa Rica alone and many others are likely to be discovered, and formally identified.   

Of course, it is not a surprise that the country’s national flower is in fact the "orchid", a species called by the nationals” La Guaria Morada” ("Guarianthe skinneri").  This Orchid grows in almost every Costa Rican home.

Costa Rica has all the right conditions for orchids to thrive, the combination of heavy rainfall, high humidity, warm tropical temperatures, and tropical breezes, make possible to have so many varieties.
Typically, a tropical orchid seed in the wild will take growth on the trunk of a tree, and if all these conditions are right, the orchid seed will sprout and grow into a beautiful adult orchid.  At any time of the year it is possible to find dozens of species in bloom, from sea level to the highest mountain.  

There is no best time for viewing orchids, although the beginning of both the dry season (especially in the wettest rainforest's regions) and the wet season are particularly favorable. 

Orchids are not only the largest family of flowering plants, they're also the most diverse; some of them flower for only one day; others last several weeks.  If you are an orchid lover, you might want to visit the cloud forest; there you will find the greatest diversity, due to the humid environment, and elevation they are abundant as tropical epiphytic orchids, in other words, they have "air-roots".

Orchids have developed a remarkable array of ingenious pollination techniques.  Some species self-pollinate, others attract insects by sexual impersonation.  One species, for example, produces a flower that closely resembles the form of a female wasp, so the male wasps not knowing they are being deceived, go on and deposit pollen within the orchid flower and immediately afterward receive a fresh batch to carry to the next false female.  Male bees and other insects are known to use the pollen of orchids as a perfume to attract females. 

Cattleya Orchids are the most common in every home in Costa Rica, and they require very simple care; they can tolerate temperatures up to 95 to 100 degrees F (35 to 38 degrees C) where the shading, humidity, and air circulation are increased.  Young plants need temperatures of 5 to 10 degrees higher than mature plants.
The lower overnight temperature recommended for Cattleyaorchids is between 60-65 ° F (15.5-18 ° C).  When this orchid becomes strong and healthy will be able to survive occasional extreme falls or temperature rises, until it gets use to the sudden and extreme temperatures. 
If possible, we should place these orchids where they receive sun in the morning and afternoon since they need a vast amount of light to grow.  When their leaves start developing a dark green hue is a warning signal that tells you that the orchid is not getting all the necessary amount of sun; however, if it is receiving to too much sun, the leaves will turn yellow.  In regard to water, the experts recommend to water them once the dirt around them feels dry.  

For more information and calendar of events visit:  
The Orchid Expo is scheduled for February 24, 25 and 26 at ACO  Headquarters, in Barrio Aranjuez, San Jose, Costa Rica  Phone: (2221)-0029  and (506) 2221-0070

The Orchid Expo could be an unforgettable event.

Something I did not know until recently is that the vanilla bean pod is the fruit of an orchid variety, which is “Vanilla Planifolia”; this is the only vine orchid in the world and, the only one that bears edible fruit.  Vanilla orchids grow in tropical climates; they grow mostly in Central and South American, Tahiti, Madagascar, Mexico, Florida, and the Bahamas.  

The dark brown bean is 7 to 9 inches long and yields about a half teaspoon of seeds which are an integral part of the pod.  The vanilla pods must be cured in order obtain the vanillin, which is the substance that gives vanilla its distinctive flavor.  The curing method consists mainly of keeping the pods warm and slowly drying for three to four months until they become pliable and deep brown, sometimes forming a fine white crystalline coating of vanillin on the surface of the beans.  Once you have the cure pods you can make your own vanilla extract, by following these simple steps:
  • Chop 4 vanilla pods, throw them in a glass jar and cover with ½ cup of vodka.
  • Shake it and place it in a cupboard for 6-8 weeks.  Shake as often as you remember, and if you forget about it , don’t worry, it won’t make a big difference. 
  • After 6-8 weeks, it should be a deep dark brown color, and it' will be ready to use.
  • You can strain out the vanilla bits but you can also leave them in.

When you visit Costa Rica, if you want to know about the Vanilla Orchid, visit Villa Vanilla Spice Plantation is located in the Central Pacific rain forest 10 miles east of Quepos overlooking Manuel Antonio National Park.

Costa Rica and its Orchids are always waiting for your visit, you won't want  to miss them.

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