The Secret Orchids of Palau

Smithsonian magazine reveals the secret orchids of Palau. The tiny South Pacific nation is spread across 344 small islands. With sun-drenched beaches and coral reefs full of vibrant fish, it’s known as one of the best dive sites in the world. But Palau is more than a biodiversity hotspot for fish. It’s also a hotspot for orchids. Palau’s forests hide over 90 species of colorful orchids, with varieties of Spathoglottis, Dendrobium, Bulbophyllum, and more.

Fortunately, the people of Palau have done a great job taking care of their native forests. Orchids are abundant. “There would literally be epiphytic orchids that would cover the tree from the ground all the way up to where I couldn’t even see them,” said Smithsonian scientist Benjamin Crain. Some species inhabit the tropical forests, while others live on rockier, more barren islands. As researchers study Palau’s plants, they’re trying to ensure that the country remains an orchid hotspot.

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