Epiphytes in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Trinidad


  • Thomas H. G. Aitken Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club


Epiphytes, Royal Botanic Gardens, Trinidad


In the American tropics, Epiphytes (so-called because they merely cling to the tree for support rather than parasitize and injure it) belong principally to the families Orchidaceae, Bromeliaceae and Araceae; the Cactaceae and Gesneriaceae are represented by a few species each, as are the ferns and a few other smaller groups. While the flora of Trinidad is not as rich as that of the mainland, there are, nevertheless, many representatives of the first three of these families in the island, the approximate figures being 179 indigenous species of orchids, 57 bromeliads and 35 aroids. Not all of these are epiphytes, however, some species being terrestrial in habit and a majority of the Araceae are terrestrial or climbing plants. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Port of Spain do not have an overabundance of these aerial plants, but because of their accessibility to residents and visitors alike they serve as an excellent place for the study of this interesting group of plants.