Cuba’s Lost Orchids
There are four “lost orchids” of South Florida: Brassia caudata, Bulbophyllum pachyrrachis, Epidendrum blancheanum and Macradenia lutescens. These species were historically subjected to both natural and human-influenced disasters over several decades throughout the 20th century. Populations of these species were decimated by hurricanes, urban development and unchecked illegal poaching of plants until all populations of the four species were declared extirpated by Florida Natural Areas Inventory by the 1980s. Despite years of field surveys, botanists and ecologists have yet to relocate any of these lost orchid species.
Working alongside Cuban partners, the Garden's Conservation & Research Staff made several trips to Cuba in 2018 to propagate these orchids for ex situ conservation and display. There is potential to fully develop the objectives for research collaborations, horticultural capacity building, and exchange and outreach.