The Cayman Islands are not as lush as neighboring Jamaica but still boast
a good variety of tropical flora and fauna. The wild banana orchid is
the national flower, selected from among 27 indigenous orchid species.
Blooming in April and May, it is found on all three islands in different
varieties. In all, 26 species of orchids are found on the islands, five
found nowhere else. The national tree is the silver thatch palm. The palm
has a silvery underside with light green upper fronds. For all its beauty,
this plant has far more than ornamental value, though. It has been used
by islanders to form roofing, belts, baskets, rope, and more. Palm rope
has long been a bartering tool, traded for staples.
The most common fruit is the mango which ripens
in June and continues to produce through September. The islands harvest
a total of about 65,000 pounds of mangoes every season. Look for about
15 different varieties of mango at roadside stands and farmers' markets.