DIVERSITY OF KENYAN ORCHIDS (ORCHIDACEAE) AND POTENTIAL ORNAMENTAL VALUE FOR HUMAN WELL BEING

M.W. Gateri, A.W. Muriuki , D.M. Gikaara, D.M. Odhiambo
Kenya situated along the equator is a land of diversity, with different climates and vegetation types. There are extensive savanna woodlands and grasslands and montane forests on the highlands, which support unique biota. A review was carried out to establish the Orchid species diversity in Kenya and their current use for human well being. A survey was also carried out to explore potential species for cut-flower production, opportunities for such species and challenges encountered in orchid cultivation. The review revealed that among the trees, shrubs and grasslands, Kenya is the home of 283 species of orchids belonging to 50 genera, half of which are epiphytic and half terrestrial. Of these species, 280 are preserved at the Museums of Kenya. A few face extinction due to climate change and wanton destruction of their natural habitat. The survey revealed that most are grown as hobby plants. Their benefits for human well being include aesthetic, architectural, utility and economic benefits. Some including Ansellia africana, Angraecum eburneum, Calanthea sylvatica and Eulophia horsfalii have potential for cut-flower production. Opportunities for production of such species include readily available markets overseas, good prices, growing urbanization and an expanding tourism industry. Challenges identified to impede production include expensive infrastructure and inputs, limited research, long growing period, little appreciation of value by locals, climate change and lack of support from government. The diversity is a rich source of valuable new flower products waiting to be fully developed and sold to the world. In order to fully exploit their potential for human well being, government’s interest and participation is required to compliment Kenya Orchid Society’s efforts in conservation and expanded cultivation and provide initiatives for research which is necessary to evolve essential techniques for cultivation.
Gateri, M.W., Muriuki , A.W., Gikaara, D.M. and Odhiambo, D.M. (2015). DIVERSITY OF KENYAN ORCHIDS (ORCHIDACEAE) AND POTENTIAL ORNAMENTAL VALUE FOR HUMAN WELL BEING. Acta Hortic. 1077, 127-133
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1077.13
https://doi.org/10.17660/ActaHortic.2015.1077.13
cut-flowers, hobby plants, benefits, conservation, production challenges
English

Acta Horticulturae