The Orchids of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador.
– A Quest of Beauty and Mystery is around Amazonian Orchids in the Yasuni, with many hours in the field rescuing and collecting fallen specimens deep in the Jungle.
The Orchids of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are easily distinguished plants, with blooms that are often colourful and fragrant. Amazon Orchids combine their special apomorphies like: bilateral symmetry of the flower (zygomorphism), many resupinate flowers, a nearly always highly modified petal (labellum), fused stamens and carpels, and extremely small seeds.
The Orchids of the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador are still a mystery for science in many ways. From simple question like How many species of Orchids live in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador?… We do not know. We know very little about this diverse family of plants present in the Amazon Rainforest at all stratas.
While most of the Orchids of the Amazon live in the canopy, some live attached to the tree trunks under the the borrar thick canopy with less light, just a few can live inside the Terra firme undergrowth, and there are even fewer that are able to survive in swampy habitats.
In-Situ Amazon Orchid Garden in Ecuador
Most of the Orchids of the Amazon recorded in Ecuador can be seen In-Situ at the Wild Amazon Orchid Garden held by the Shiripuno Amazon Lodge in the Yasuni Biosphere Reserve. This remote garden was started with a single question: Where are the Orchids around here?
A simple Orchids question led us to a frenetic quest to find and study them, but as we all know most of the Amazonian Orchids live up 40 or 50 meters above the ground where under the different and challenging conditions of the canopy, most of them have adopted a lifestyle to limited conditions of soil and water.
How we create the largest living collection of Orchids Amazon of the Amazon Rainforest?
As part of our Nature Trips, during our Forest Walks, we started searching for orchids plants along the paths, during these process, we trained our eyes to recognize orchids and found that many had fallen from the treetops.
We learnt that after heavy rainstorms, thousands of branches fall down to the forest floor loaded with orchids and many of them bring rarities.
Parts of an Orchid
- Bloom – the actual flower once it is open.
- Bud – the flower before it is opened.
- Column – the tiny, rounded, column-like extension between the two largest petals. This little guy is the central reproductive organ of the orchid flower.
- Inflorescence – the flowering part of a plant.
- Keiki – a small plant growing from a node on the flower stem.
- Leaves – located above the roots.
- Lip – the part of the flower that is almost completely divided from the rest of the flower, however, it is connected by the column. The lip is specialized to aid in pollination.
- Medium – the material added to an orchid’s container, which can range from varieties of materials such as soil to bark.
- Node – a distinct joint or notch on the inflorescence from which a secondary flower stem can emerge from after the primary inflorescence has finished blooming.
- Roots – located just below the leaves.
- Sepal – the outer segments on an orchid flower. Similar to petals, sepals are the three smaller segments of the flower that create a triangular shape.
- Spike/Stem – a flower stalk.
- Stake – a wooden stick to support the orchid spike.
- Throat – the inner portion of a tubular orchid lip, often quite colorful.
The Genus of Orchids found in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador:
- Gongora is a genus of showy epiphytic Orchids family (Orchidaceae). It comprehends 65 species known from Central America, Trinidad, and tropical South America, with most species found in Colombia and Ecuador. The habitat of the Gongora species, and especially the fact that the pendent inflorescences originate from the base of the pseudobulbs, indicates that they all are true epiphytes. The Gongora genus has complex pollination system. They are pollinated by male solitary bees of the Euglossinae family.
- Epidendrum is a large neotropical genus of the Orchid family (Orchidaceae). With more than 1,500 species, some authors describe it as a mega-genus. Their habitat can be epiphytic, terrestrial, or even lithophytic (growing on bare rock).
- Sobralia is a genus of Orchid family (Orchidaceae) native to Mexico, Central and South America. The plants are more commonly terrestrial, but are also found growing epiphytically, in wet forests from sea level to about 8,800 ft.
- Catasetum is a genus of showy epiphytic Orchids family (Orchidaceae) occur from Mexico to Argentina, including much of Central America, the West Indies, and South America. The largest number of species is in Brazil.
- Stelis is a genus of orchids known as the Leach orchids, with perhaps 500 species. The generic name Stelis is the Greek word for ‘mistletoe’, referring to the epiphytic habit of these species. These mainly epiphytic (rarely lithophytic) plants are widely distributed throughout much of South America, Central America, Mexico, the West Indies and Florida.
- Maxillaria is a large and diverse genus of orchids with very different morphological forms. Their characteristics can vary widely. They are commonly called spider orchids, flame orchids or tiger orchids. Their scientific name is derived from the Latin word maxilla, meaning jawbone, reflecting on the column and the base of the lip of some species, that may evoke a protruding jaw.