Two years ago staff at the Parque Botánico-Orquidario in Estepona planted a specimen of Etlingera elatior, a member of the ginger family native to Indonesia, which is just starting to bloom for the first time. Commonly called torch ginger, red ginger lily and porcelain rose, the flowering stem can reach up to five metres in height. According to the curator, Manuel Lucas, the large blooms are a mixture of reds and pinks and it is not a difficult plant to cultivate although it needs, "intermediate light and well-drained and constantly humid soil." he expects the flower to continue to open and will stay in bloom for several weeks.
The Etlingera elatior will be one of the main attractions at the Orchidarium where there are nearly 200 species that are currently flowering. Many of the species are difficult to find elsewhere in Europe as they are native to tropical climates and need specialised care. For this reason the Parque Botánico-Orquidario in Estepona has established itself as one of the most important in Europe and has become a focus of attention for visitors and tourists interested in botany and the uniqueness of some of the species
Among the other species that are in bloom at the moment, Manuel Lucas has highlighted the spectacular Dendrobium densiflorum, which has beautiful yellow flowers and Dendrobium anosmum, which has deliciously scented flowers.
Orchids of the Phalaenopsis genus, such as schilleriana, stuartiana, philippinense or mannii, are also on display. The Orchidarium recently witnessed the flowering of a gigantic Dendrobium aphyllum, which developed two-metre-tall stems from which cascaded hundreds of pink and white flowers.
Previously this year the rare Angraecum sesquipedale, known as Darwin's orchid, as it was used by the scientist for his studies on the evolution of the species, flowered, and in 2018 the park became the first in Spain to have an Amorphophallus prainii bloom in public. It is native to Southeast Asia and creates a strange contrast; the flower is quite beautiful but it emits an unpleasant smell of rotting flesh that it uses to attract insects for pollination.
The Botanical Park has more than 3,000 different species of plants, of which more than 1,500 are orchids, making it one of the most visited facilities in Estepona. However, due to the current health situation, people interested in visiting must make an appointment online: www.orchidariumestepona.com.