The flower of the Holy Spirit was declared a National Distinction of Panama in October 21, 1980  by the National Assembly of the Republic. Scientifically speaking this flower is known as Peristeria elata and in English it is also called Holy Ghost orchid or Dove orchid, and belongs to the family of orchids. It is a terrestrial or epiphyte plant with fleshy white and even ivory colored leaves native to Panama, where the greatest number of species can be seen, however, it can also be found in some areas of Colombia and Ecuador.

Its natural beauty stands out for its white dove shape with open petals that represents the figure of two wings and its greatest splendor can be seen during the months of July to October when blooming. This orchid is one of the most endangered flowers due to its great beauty that has led wildlife traffickers to illegally extract them from their habitat for sale, to the point that a couple of years ago technicians from Taiwan developed a program to achieve its recovery, while the authorities try to only show it in exhibitions. Currently, the Flower of the Holy Spirit is included in the list of endangered plants according to the Washington Treaty.

In Panama, this species can abundantly be found in very humid mountain forests. In the province of Herrera, specifically in the community of Las Minas, different orchids can be seen. In this area, the Flower of the Holy Spirit has been found as an epiphytic plant on tree trunks covered with mosses at elevations close to 1.100 meters above sea level. In its natural habitat, this orchid grows near the ground at the edges of mature forests.

It is important to mention that in Panama you can only find this flower in exhibitions and it is such a symbolic icon within the local culture that every year during the last week of August or beginning of September (depending on the blooming  season) there is an exhibition in the town of Las Minas called Feria de la Flor Espíritu Santo or the Flower of the Holy Spirit Festival that gives tribute to this National flower.

Posted in Outdoor Adventures on April 18 at 11:41 AM

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