National Symbols

Cayman National Symbols


The Cayman Parrot


About 2,000 parrots inhabit Grand Cayman, while the quieter, smaller Cayman Brac Parrot maintains a stable population of about 400.


Nesting in tree holes in old-growth forests, the colourful parrots depend on undisturbed woodlands and black mangrove forests for survival. The Cayman Islands parrots are two sub-species of the Cuban Parrot (Amazona Leucocephala).


Cayman's parrots have iridescent green feathers with darker edges over the body, a white eye ring, red cheeks, black ear patches and brilliant blue wing feathers which are only obvious when the bird is in flight. The tail has blue outer edges, with some red and yellowish-green underneath. The Grand Cayman Parrot (Amazona leucocephala caymanensis) also has a pink flush to its whitish forehead.


The Cayman Brac Parrot (Amazona leucocephala hesterna) is slightly smaller, with more black trim on its green feathers. The crown is pure white, and there is a large maroon area on the abdomen. It is now found only on Cayman Brac. Although it used to inhabit Little Cayman, it was apparently wiped out from there by the 1932 hurricane. Historically parrots were common family pets. Today, however, it is illegal to take a parrot from the wild and keep it as a pet.  

Cayman Silver thatch


The tall, slender silver thatch palm is especially conspicuous at the eastern end of all three of the Cayman Islands, where they sway in the trade winds high above the low, dry thickets of native trees and shrubs. Bearing the scientific name, Coccothrinax proctorii, after botanist Dr. George Proctor, its leaves are what give this tree its common name; they're green on the top and silver on the bottom.

Up to the early 1960s, the silver thatch palm played an important role in the lives of Caymanians. Unusually tough, the leaves have a variety of uses, from roofing for houses to the weaving of hats, baskets and fans. In earlier years, straw rope made from the thatch palm was highly prized in Cuba and Jamaica for use in shipping, fishing and sugar industries. Exporting rope was Cayman's largest source of revenue


Yellow Banana Orchid


The woods provide shelter for several varieties of flowering plants, including orchids. Probably the best known of Cayman's 26 species of orchids is the wild banana orchid, of which there are two varieties: Schomburgkia thomsoniana var. thomsoniana, which originated on Grand Cayman, and Schomburgkia thomsoniana var. minor, which came from Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

Both varieties have scented flowers with purple lips, although the petals are predominantly white on the Grand Cayman variety, while the Sister Islands' has slightly smaller flowers, with pale yellow petals. The flowers appear at the top of a long curved spike at the bottom of which cluster banana-like pseudo-bulbs that give this orchid its name.


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