Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group

Orchids - Celebrate the Colour of Colombia

In 2019, the annual orchid festival at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is devoted to Colombia.

A row of orchids hanging from a high shelf at Kew Gardens
Hilary Birks

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The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, under the scientific leadership of Kathy Willis (an EECRG alumnus) started a long-term collaboration in 2007 with botanists and conservationists in Colombia to identify, map, and investigate the potential of hundreds of Colombian plant and fungal species to challenges such as climate change, disease, and protecting ecosystem services. EECRG and HOPE post-doctoral research Suzette Flantua was a member of the Colombia Bio project before joining the EECRG in April 2018.

The 2019 festival consists of 12 major exhibits centred around orchids. Colombia has some of the highest richness of orchids in the world and an incredibly hight plant diversity globally. The exhibits illustrate the stunning rainbow river, Caño Cristates, the legendary El Dorado, hanging bamboos, colourful arches and towers of orchids, a carnival of animals with floral sluptures of a toucan, sloth, and turtle, and many beautiful plants from the highly diverse and contrasting biomes within Colombia.

Hilary and John Birks visited the festival on 24 February and found it breathtaking and absolutely stunning.