Roller-coasting through lush green valleys, the road from Concepción (at 20 kilometers from David, Chiriqui's provincial capital, by the Interamerican Highway) that climbs up to the Highland's mountain settlements, crossing first through Volcan, and ending in Cerro Punta.

The road is lined with dozens of fincas. Some specialize in growing strawberries, flowers, onions, and other fruits and vegetables; others are dedicated to breeding horses or rearing dairy cattle.

Finca Dracula is an orchid farm, located at only 5 minutes of the suburb of Guadalupe, Cerro Punta. After the gate, the path through the finca (farm in spanish) moves along a zone of woodlands.

The name it's all to do with the Dracula Orchid--and there are 124 species of Draculas growing in the finca's greenhouses. They only wake up in the night lifting up a blossom with a ghoulishly vampiric face. Different faces, different colors--but none raise their heads during daylight hours.

Started as a hobby in 1969 by owner Andrew Maduro (Maduro Tropical Flowers), the finca covers 22 acres. Formerly cattle pastures with a main house built in the 1920s by Swiss-German immigrants, it now produces over 2,200 types of orchids from all over the world. It's both a safe haven for endangered varieties as well as a business. And not just within Panama--over 25% of the plants get exported overseas. Some rarities can fetch more than $5,000 apiece.

Some of the more important Dracula Orchids species originated in Panama are:

  • Dracula erythrochaete - Warmth-tolerant
  • Dracula maduroi - New Species, Very Limited! Very rare!
  • Dracula olmosii
  • Dracula roezlii 'Finca Dracula'*
  • Dracula vampira 'Panama Orange'*
  • Dracula amaliae 'Finca Dracula') - A tall red-orange Masdevallia crossed with a large white Dracula.
  • Dracula Volcan Baru (cordobae x sodiroi)
  • Dracuvallia (Masdevalia ignea 'Maduro's Mountatin' AM/AOS x Dracula amaliae 'Finca Dracula') - A tall red-orange Masdevallia crossed with a large white Dracula.
  • Dracuvallia Panama Gold (Masdevalia veitchiana x Dracula Volcan Baru) - A tall red-orange warmth-tolerant Masdevallia crossed with a large red-orange warmth tolerant Dracula.
  • Dracuvallia Rosemary (Masdevalia uniflora x Dracula hirtzii 'Finca Dracula')
If you're fascinated by orchids, the best time to go is between March and April, when the majority are in bloom. You can visit any day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., but I thought a small fee for being shown around was rather steep. Tel (507) 771-2070.

Sources of information: & Steenie Harvey, for International Living.
















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