Aquatic House and Orchid Collection


The Aquatic House is home to BBG’s large orchid collection as well as a variety of tropical and subtropical aquatic and wet environment plants from around the world.

At the entry of the Aquatic House is a paludarium that displays treeferns, mosses, orchids, and an epiphyte-covered tree that stands above exposed rockwork, while waterfalls cascade into the six-foot-deep pool.

A second pool displays plants in a naturalistic bog environment. Its emphasis is on demonstrating the range of physical adaptations plants have made to live in, on, and near water.

A custom-built cold case allows display of specimens from BBG’s unusual collection of hardy orchids.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden has a long history of cultivating orchids. The main expansion of the orchid collection occurred from the 1950s through the 1970s under the guidance of Dr. Carl Withner. His teaching, writing, and development of the collection brought the Garden's orchid reputation to national prominence.

In 1999, BBG received a generous donation of approximately 800 orchids from the private collection of widely respected orchid growers and hybridizers Dr. Benjamin Berliner and Esther Ann Berliner. The Berliners' gift consisted of unusual and important species as well as many high quality hybrids in a variety of different genera—many of them American Orchid Society award winners.

In 2006, The collection was significantly expanded through generous gifts of desirable orchids, including 700 plants from Carlos Fighetti, 60 plants from Theresa Cwierzyk, and 30 plants from Brian Lym and Scot Medbury.

Today, as orchids bloom, they are rotated into the Aquatic House display case. Visitors can also see more than 100 Vanda alliance plants that bloom throughout the year in the permanent display and the Garden's giant specimen of Grammatophyllum speciosum, considered to be the largest orchid species in the world.

Along with a vast orchid collection, the Aquatic House plants include mangroves, papyrus, water hyacinth, numerous aroids, carnivorous plants, and a rare pond-apple tree.

Tiger Orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum)
Photo by Dave Allen.
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    • Beautiful sunny morning in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory. Photo by Rebecca BulleneBeautiful sunny morning in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
    • Photo by Kate BlummPhoto by Kate Blumm
    • Photo by Kate BlummPhoto by Kate Blumm
    • Phragmipedium Andean Fire blooms in the Aquatic House. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Phragmipedium Andean Fire blooms in the Aquatic House. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
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      • The Vanda coerulea orchid is a famous native of Thailand and has been honored by the American Orchid Society 39 times. Its petals are so big and bright that it's easy to miss the bright orange highlight tucked away at its center. Blooming now in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Gallery.
Photo by Rebecca BulleneThe Vanda coerulea orchid is a famous native of Thailand and has been honored by the American Orchid Society 39 times. Its petals are so big and bright that it's easy to miss the bright orange highlight tucked away at its center. Blooming now in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Gallery. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • Tiger orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum) in bloom. Photo by Dave Allen.Tiger orchid (Grammatophyllum speciosum) in bloom. Photo by Dave Allen.
      • Myriophyllum aquaticum in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.Myriophyllum aquaticum in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.
      • Easy to see why Paphiopedilum Onyx is a favorite of many orchid societies, the texture and colors are stunning! It's on display along with many other orchids in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.
Photo by Rebecca BulleneEasy to see why Paphiopedilum Onyx is a favorite of many orchid societies, the texture and colors are stunning! It's on display along with many other orchids in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • A water lily rises from the deep in the Aquatic Pavilion of the Steinhardt Conservatory.
Photo by Rebecca BulleneA water lily rises from the deep in the Aquatic Pavilion of the Steinhardt Conservatory. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • Up close and personal with a Solandra longiflora flower in the Robert W. Wilson Aquatic House within the Steinhardt Conservatory.
Photo by Rebecca BulleneUp close and personal with a Solandra longiflora flower in the Robert W. Wilson Aquatic House within the Steinhardt Conservatory. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • Just another sunny, warm, orchid filled day in the Robert W. Wilson Aquatic House.
Photo by Rebecca BulleneJust another sunny, warm, orchid filled day in the Robert W. Wilson Aquatic House. Photo by Rebecca Bullene
      • Phragmepedium sedenii. Photo by Uli Lorimer.Phragmepedium sedenii. Photo by Uli Lorimer.
      • Passion flower blooms in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.Passion flower blooms in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.
      • A South American Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis) rises from the bog in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.A South American Aztec Arrowhead (Sagittaria montevidensis) rises from the bog in the Aquatic House of the Steinhardt Conservatory.
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