Papillote Tropical Gardens: Flora
One of the most impressive botanical collections in the Caribbean, Papillote Tropical Gardens features more than 100 genuses represented by over 600 individual species, including significant collections of aroids, begonias, bromeliads, gingers, heliconias and indigenous orchids.
Aroids belong to the Araceae family of plants and include colourful, exotic anthuriums, popular houseplants like the philodendrum and dieffenbachia (which grow to epic proportions in the rainforest), and ground provisions like taro, known locally as dasheen. The potato-esque root of the dasheen is a staple of the Dominican diet and its leaves are a principal ingredient in callaloo soup, a delectable local specialty. Rare aroid species at Papillote include the bizzare Amorphophallus paeoniifolius, a close relative of the gigantic, stinking corpse flower, A. titanum, which produces the largest flower in the world. View a photo gallery of the aroids found at Papillote.
Begonias are an enormously popular family of flowering plants with hundreds of varieties prized for their variegated foliage and delicate flowers.
The most famous of the bromeliads is the pineapple, but the Bromeliaceae family also includes a wide variety of terrestrial and epiphytic species. Bromeliads capture water in their whorled leaf structures and are an important habitat for Papillote’s tree frogs and other rainforest creatures.
Ginger is well known as a cooking spice, but the Zingiberaceae family also includes non-edible ornamental gingers with flowers of extraordinary beauty. The nectar of the torch ginger, with its garish red and pink blossoms, is also an important food source for hummingbirds.
Members of the heliconia family are noted for their colourful spiked bracts that look as though they are made of wax, cast in brilliant shades of red, yellow and orange. Several species of heliconia have a unique, co-evolutionary relationship with the purple-throated carib. The curved flower of the heliconia precisely matches the curve and length of the hummingbird’s beak to facilitate pollination.
Papillote’s orchid collection features several dozen varieties of native and imported species, including the rare, indigenous Epidendrum discoidale.