Orchids & Cycads

Attraction of opposites

  • Built in 1967
  • Desired temperature: 19 - 23ºC
  • Relative humidity: 85%

The new fronds of Cycas revolutaIn the centre of the house is the screw pine (Pandanus utilis) with a skirt of supporting prop roots. In the unstable riverside silts and swamps where these trees usually grow, the prop roots provide essential anchorage.

This house is dominated by cycads, an ancient group of plants which were growing when dinosaurs ruled the planet. They have tough palm-like leaves, and both the male and female plants bear spectacular cones. Cycads are very slow growing, surviving for up to 2,000 years, although unfortunately in their native sub-tropical habitats many are threatened with extinction. Some of the cycads in this house are already over 200 years old.

The dramatic flower of the orchid Dracula Bella The orchid family is one of the largest in the plant kingdom, with roughly 20,000 species. A wide range of orchids flourishes in the moderate humidity and warmth of this house. Some, known as terrestrial orchids, are rooted in the ground, but many others grow epiphytically - on the surfaces of other plants. These have special, thickened aerial roots which allow the orchids to absorb nutrients from the atmosphere.

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The hot and humid atmosphere is ideal for Tillandsia usneoides.

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a charity (registration number SC007983)