Symbols of the Costa Rican Bicentennial: March Brings the Flowering of the “Purple Guarias” Orchid

    The gorgeous natural symbol of the country for all to admire

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    Throughout its history, even before its independence, Costa Rica has stood out for its exuberant nature. Therefore, it is not surprising that its national flower belongs to one of the most exotic families such as orchids.

    The “Guaria Morada” (Purple Guaria) was declared an official symbol on June 15th, 1939. This, during the administration of the then President, León Cortés (1936-1940). However, its beauty had already captured the imagination of the musicians Roberto Gutiérrez Vargas and Carlos López Castro. In 1934, the artists wrote the lyrics to the song alluding to Guarianthe skinneri. -its scientific name- and which became one of the main folk tunes in the country

    A little bit of history

    According to the official decree, the appointment was due to a request that came from Argentina. That year, the Garden of Peace was founded in that South American nation and its founder, Alberto Oitaven sent a request to all countries to inquire about the national flowers.

    At the same time that the Argentine request arrived, the organizers of the Annual Exhibition of Tropical Flowers in Miami, in the United States, made a similar query. This led to a contest run by the Rotary Club and the Garden Club.

    “The National School of Agriculture, High Schools, the Normal School and the Directorate of the National Museum also participated, the Guaria Morada was chosen by a large majority as the National Flower of Costa Rica”, reads the agreement.

    Interesting Data

    As a curious fact, for many years it was known as Catleya skinneri. However, it was changed to a word with indigenous roots. His image is also present on the five-colones banknotes that circulated between 1968 and 1986.

    Nazarene Flower

    Its traditional flowering goes from February to March. For this reason, together with its vivid purple color, it was used for decades as an ornament in Easter activities (“Nazarene Flower”).

    This is one of the approximately 1,400 orchid species described in the country. Of these, 20% are endemic. However, Guaria Morada is not one of them. Its distribution goes from Guatemala to Panama, with a predilection for heights between 800 and 1,500 meters above sea level.

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