Botanical Illustration in Costa Rica

Botanical ArtThe guaria morada became Costa Rica’s national flower on June 15, 1939. It is said to reflect its nation’s people in its beauty, fragility, and abundance. The gorgeous purple (You know how I love PURPLE!) flower is an epiphytic orchid, growing on trees, sustaining itself, but attaching itself on Costa Rican trees for support.

It grows in pre-montane zones between 1,600 and 3,300 feet above sea level. Due to its near over-harvesting in the past 80 years, they may be difficult to spot in the wild. The distinctive fragile purple petals are easily spotted in local gardens where Costa Ricans proudly cultivate the bloom. ( I just got back and they are everywhere!) The flower is still popular and can be found in nearly any botanical garden or nursery in Costa Rica.

The guaria morada has a very fragile scent that is said to be filled with dreams yet to be fulfilled. The spiritual significance of the flower is quite touching – it brings fortune and luck while evoking peace and love according to local lore.

Photographs don’t do the bloom justice. Botanical illustration captures an accurate rendering of the stem, leaves, and bloom while maintaining a semblance of the spiritual importance that the flower has in Costa Rican culture.  I painted this orchid many years ago and luckily sold the painting before the age of digital archives so I will just have to paint another one!

In the meantime here is a painting that I did of a naturalized hybrid orchid. This orchid is a hybrid that occurs naturally in Costa Rica. It is called Phragmipedium Grande (Phrag. caudatum x Phrag. longifolium) It reportedly was collected in the wild in Costa Rica decades ago, and has been distributed among several orchid growers here in the US. The hybrid has also been artificially recreated by orchid breeders many times. The tendrils were so long! It was loads of fun to paint.

To learn more about Costa Rica’s flora and botanical illustration, please search through my blog posts at botanicalartpainting.com. Perhaps you would like to join me as I offer art tours and workshops to help you capture the elegance of your own natural endeavors. With the spirit of guaria morada, I would bid you good luck and fortune in all of your future botanical pursuits!