Belize is full of fascinating cultures, flora, fauna and a history that is varied and colorful. Of course we have equally cool National Symbols to go along with it! They include a flower, a tree, a bird, a large mammal, and of course, our flag and its coat of arms. The Encyclia Cochleatum – or Black Orchid, is our national flower.Black Orchid
It is a tiny cluster of bulb-like stems that grow up to half a foot long, with few leaves. The flowers bloom nearly all year round, and the petals and sepals are a mixture of green and yellow, with a purple base. The shape of the flower is similar to a clam shell valve, and is deep purple – almost black – with showy purple veins.
It is native to Central America, the West Indies, Colombia, Venezuela, and southern Florida. The little cluster of blooms is almost un-noticeable as they are tiny, but once you’ve seen them, it’s hard to look away. For as long as I’ve lived in Belize (all my life), I have been told that I cannot purchase a Black Orchid – as it is illegal to sell or trade them. Thus, finding them – whether in the wild or in some lucky owner’s yard – is a joy!
The next time you see a Black Orchid, know that you are in the presence of a little, but mighty flower.

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About the Author: Mary Gonzalez

Mary Gonzalez writes under the pseudonym 'Tia Chocolate'. Tia Chocolate enjoys writing short stories that focus on her life growing up in the small Maya village of San Antonio, Cayo District, Belize.
Tia loves (and we mean LOVE) eating and writing about her food experiences, often times trying out new recipes to try and recreate the foods of her memories. She also loves to travel, indulging in the culture wherever she is privy to visit.
She is slave to a giant cat named Kitty Boo Boo, and her cooking exploits are enjoyed by her significant other, Pookie.

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