The Monja Blanca: Symbol of peace, beauty and art

Monja Blanca
Monja Blanca

Whether you’re a flower aficionado or not, flowers trigger pleasant emotions and intensify feelings of satisfaction. Flowers deliver positive effects on our emotional well-being. Among the array of flowers that exist, orchids are hauntingly beautiful flowers and the largest family of flowering plant.

Out of 35,000 described species that form the orchid family, Guatemala is home for about 1,000 species which ranges from the delicate and dainty to the flamboyant and glamorous. One of the orchids that grow in Guatemala is La Monja Blanca or the White Nun Orchid in English. Looking closely at the center of the flower, you’ll understand where this immaculately white orchid gets its name. In the center of the flower, the stamen and the pistils of the flower are joined together that bear a resemblance to a nun bent in a prayer. The Monja Blanca is mainly found in the Verapaces area, northwest region of Guatemala (especially in Alta Verapaz).

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. – Luther Burbank

And what makes Monja Blanca so special? The Monja Blanca with a scientific name Lycaste skinneri alba is an albino variant of pink Lycaste skinneri and very rare. The flower is an epiphyte, which means although it grows on another plant (normally a tree); it doesn’t harm it in any ways. Furthermore, Monja Blanca is a hermaphroditic flower, meaning it produces millions of seed that it can self-fertilize and requires a specific fungus to germinate. Another unique characteristic of the Monja Blanca is that, it takes fifteen years before it flowers and only blooms from December till February.

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out values all the utilities of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Declared as the national flower of Guatemala in 1934, the Monja Blanca symbolizes peace, beauty and art for Guatemalans. To preserve the flower from complete extinction, it is protected by law from cutting and commercialization. Guatemala: captivating culture and enchanting nature.


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