Orchids of Mauritius
is no country in the world where indigenous orchids do no not grow, except in the Polar Regions.
Madagascar and the Mascarene islands (Mauritius, Réunion and Rodrigues) in the
South-West Indian Ocean have a fair number of interesting indigenious orchids. In
Mauritius, there were quite a number of different genera
species growing in
our forests, but through overexploitation of these forests for opening roads, building
houses, for cane and tea plantations, many have been lost. Great efforts are being made to preserve such
a wonderful heritage and recently researchers rediscovered six species previously
However, there are still a few left, about 31 genera and 93 species, which are unfortunately critically
We make a special appeal to everyone to do the utmost to help ensure the
Please find below the descriptions of a few of our species that can
still be seen growing in the wild. It is our intention to add some more
interesting entries to this list.
This is the most beautiful of all the indigenous orchids of Mauritius. We, at
the OSM, have adopted it as our emblem and for our logo. It is epiphytic and of
monopodial growth habit. The leaves are dark green and leathery, 5-7 cm in
length and 1.2 -1.6 cm in width. It is found growing at the bottom of small
trees or even on the ground. It flourishes at 500-800 m elevations. It produces
an abundance of aerial roots. The inflorescence is 30-60 cm long erect to semi
pendulous and carries 7-12 white to greenish- white flowers resembling some sort
of insect. The sepals are short and narrow. The petals are larger and deeply
lobed, making it most attractive. Like all angraecoids, it has a small spur. In
some clones there is a red blush at the base of the lip. The fibrous roots were
used by villagers to make nooses to catch fresh water prawns, hence its
vernacular name ''liane camaron". The flowers were also used as bridal bouquets
in the olden days when the forests were full of Cryptopus elatus.
Aeranthes arachnites. This is known locally as "orchidée
orchid) because the flower resembles a chicken's beak. It is epiphytic and is
found growing on rocks and on the base of old trees. It has practically no stem.
The strap-shaped leaves are deep green in colour and are about 20-30 cm long and
about 2.5 cm wide. The drooping flower spikes are about 20-30 cm long and very
thin. The light green flowers which are about 5 cm long and 3.5 cm wide come
from the tip of the spike. It flowers in the summer months. It is still a common
plant and not too difficult to find in the forests. Quite a few orchid growers
of the island have specimens in their
Angraecum mauritianum. This
can probably be called a road-side orchid as it is commonly seen along the road
to Plaines Champagne
growing on the ground or on fallen trees. It is never found growing high up on
trees. It is rather a small plant and never exceeds 15 cm in height. It branches
easily and forms huge clumps. The deep green leaves are about 10-12 cm long and 1
cm wide. The flowers which are star shaped are of a pure white colour and are
about 3 cm in diameter and have a 6 cm long greenish spur. They last for about a week and take a yellowish colour before wilting.
|Angraecum pectinatum. It is perhaps the
commonest flower in our forests today. It is a small species growing in clumps
on branches or trunks of trees. The small leaves, about 2 cm long, are very thick
and deep green in colour. The plant never exceeds 12 cm in height. The white
flowers are very small, about 3-4 mm in diameter and last for 2 or 3 days. This
grows well in collections and probably because of the proper care, its
flowers are then much bigger.
||Angraecum eberneum. This is a very large and
robust plant with large fleshy leaves, usually found growing on rocks, base of tree trunks
or even on the ground. Large white flowers are produced on long spikes and are
long standing. They are very fragrant at night time. A huge clump was found
growing on the eastern vertical wall of Montagne Corps de Garde some years ago.
Nobody dared to collect it as access to the plant was rather difficult. Today
with new techniques of mountain climbing, we wonder if the clump is still
there. It is not an easy plant to be seen.
Beclardia macrostachya. This is one of
the prettiest orchids of the island but unfortunately it is now rarely seen in
the wild. It resembles a dwarf Angraecum eberneum and the fan-shaped leaves are
very flexible. The flowers about 4 cm in diameter are white with a fairly large
lip and yellowish green in the throat. They are long lasting.
||Jumellea recta. This is the only species of
the genus Jumellea which is found growing in Mauritius. It is epiphytic or
lithophytic, found growing on small trees or even on the floor of the forest.
It is a small plant about 15 cm high with strap-shaped leaves. The
inflorescence is short and is always single flowered. The vertical measurement of
the flower is much greater than the horizontal. Pure white in colour with a fairly
long spur, the flowers lasts only for a few days. It is very fragrant and is
widely used to flavour the local rum; hence the threat of its decimation.