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This talk aims to communicate main achievements in orchid research in the Caribbean that have taken place at Selby Gardens. I have done a thorough review of the history, research and outreach activities that Selby Gardens orchid research associates have achieved during the past 50 years in this geographic area. I have consulted Selby’s databases, herbarium, and spirit collections. I used this information as an opportunity to identify new avenues of research, exploration, and regional collaboration in the Caribbean. Scientists at Selby gardens have amassed one of the world’s largest and most important orchid collection and scholarly literature. More than 25 research associates of the gardens have explored countries with coastal areas in the Caribbean, including Costa Rica, Belize, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, and the southern part of the state of Florida, USA. Taxonomists like Carl Luer and John Atwood contribute to the identification of many orchid species in the region and the publication of the Orchid Flora of the Greater Antilles. Carl Luer worked extensively in the systematics of the subtribe Pleurothallinidae in the Antilles, including the genera Pleurothallis and Lepanthes, while Bruce Holst and others have made an incredible amount of exploration in Belize, Panama, and Costa Rica. We have also worked with collaborators and research associates from the Caribbean region helping them to develop important research in areas such as conservation, taxonomy, and ecology. More than ten visitors from different countries of the Caribbean have used Selby resources to leverage their research. Selby’s impressive live orchid collection houses more than 850 species from 18 countries such as Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica, the three best represented countries in our collection. Herbarium specimens from the Antilles include around 625 specimens, plus more than100 from the southern counties in coastal Florida. In conclusion Selby Gardens have a rich history of orchid research and collaboration in the Caribbean including important germplasm that could be used in conservation projects around the region. In the future we will keep working with local researchers to strengthen their conservation initiatives, and to keep exploring patterns of variation within orchid species in the region and using high throughput sequencing. The region needs further exploration particularly in certain regions of Cuba, Bahamas, and Hispaniola. New species in genera such as Encyclia and Tolumnea are to be described. Much information about orchid morphology, pollination, population biology and blogography is still missing for many species.


Orchidaceae, Caribbean, Selby Gardens

Tatiana Arias

Presentation within symposium:

S-46 Noah´s Arcs of the Anthropocene: the role of Botanic Gardens in Caribbean plant conservation

Half a century of Caribbean orchid research and exploration at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens


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