Created: May 2015
Nowhere in Costa Rica is there a more beautiful variety of flora than in the Guanacaste region. Not only does the national tree, the Guanacaste, grow here, the rainforest can be found nearby, where Costa Rica’s national flower, the Guaria Morada (also called Guarianthe Skinneri) grows. This beautiful orchid can be found growing naturally in humid environments.
Though exporting orchids without a permit is illegal in Costa Rica, the Guaris Skinneri is seen less often in the wild today. Persons found in breach of the law will be arrested, fined or imprisoned for up to four months. Unfortunately, people harvest the beauties as personal trophies, to sell overseas, or in local nurseries.
Not long ago many mighty trees grew across the connected landscapes of Guanacaste. However, as the trees were cut down for timber export, about two hundred years ago, much of the province became land for animals to graze. Today there are a few protected areas where forests grow, but it is the rainforest that there is a plethora of flora which attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and exotic birds. That is why birdwatchers and nature lovers are so attracted to the region. The Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, which is located on the north side of the majestic volcano, Rincon de la Vieja, beside the national Park, of the same name, is in the middle of one of those special rainforests. Only this side of the volcano has blue rivers and natural mineral hot springs. Here and inside the park, the tropical rainforest is home to over 1,000 unusual species of orchids, many flowering plants and birds of the most vivid color spectrum.
A recent statement released by the Lankester Botanical Garden at the University of Costa Rica stated “There are 1,400 species of orchid in Costa Rica, 20 percent of which are only found here.” The National Flower of Costa Rica, the Guarianthe Skinneri, is a beautiful orchid that is sometimes called the Cattleya Skinneri. It is internationally recognized as a trophy orchid by many horticultural societies.
Historically the Guarianthe Skinneri was first recorded in a publication by botanist James Bateman, entitled the Orchids of Mexico and Guatemala, (1839). Then, George Ure Skinner supplied several species of Catteleys to England. In honor of his contribution to science, the botanists classified them with the suffix ‘Skinneri’. The Guarianthe Skinneri is found throughout Central America, from Central Mexico to Costa Rica. Here the Guaria Skinneri is known as the Guaria Morada and is celebrated as the National Flower.
Costa Rican’s ‘Guaria Morada’ is used in many local traditions including in religious ceremonies. This orchid thrives at higher elevations in a humid environment, between 1,500 feet and 3,000 feet. It is an epiphyte, meaning it harmlessly attaches to a growing tree and is not a parasite. The Guaria Skinneri can be found throughout the warmer geographic regions of the Western hemisphere, from Florida and Mexico across Central America and throughout the Caribbean.
The most recognized color is lavender, the color of those displayed most often by Costa Ricans as their National Flower. Petals of the Catteley Skinneri are sometimes colored alba and coerulea but these are considered hybrids. In Costa Rica the orchid blooms from January through April, with the most prolific blooms in March.
The Ticos say that the flower is a good luck charm that will bring good fortune to the home. During Lenten and Holy Week, the churches of Costa Rica are brightly decorated with this mildly scented purple flower.
There is a substantial orchid gardens inside the Botanical Gardens at the Blue River Costa Rica Resort and Hot Springs. Be sure to take the garden and bird watching tours. These gardens showcase the amazing flora and fauna found inside the Rincon de la Vieja. It makes for an unforgettable Costa Rica vacation. Whether you are taking a family vacation, romantic get-away or off on a retreat there is something for everyone. Remember to take a camera. Eco-adventure tours include horseback riding, zip lining, water tubing on the Blue River, rafting, hiking and much more. Or just relax on your balcony in the hammock, soak in our natural hot springs, take a mud bath, massage, walk the botanical and butterfly gardens. It is all part of a day’s healthy enjoyment at our Guanacaste paradise on the north side of Rincon de la Vieja.