Orchids were explored in Ecuador since colonial times. However, the vast majority of orchidaceous flora of Ecuador was discovered after World War II, when researchers from the United States and Sweden conducted botanical expeditions, as reported by the Visit Ecuador Website.
Ecuador has classified and published 4,032 species of orchids, 1,714 endemic species and there are over 400 species in classification process, according to data collected by the documentary "Ecuador: land of orchids".
One important thing is that orchid’s capsule may contain more than three million seeds. One can only grow an orchid if the seeds fall off close to the root of a mother plant that lives in symbiosis with a microscopic fungus. For this reason, very few of those seeds generate a mature plant, says the documentary in question.
Ecuador is the most biodiverse country per square kilometer in the world. It has more than 17,058 species of vascular plants, or flowering plants, as noted by the Fourth National Report for the Convention on Biological Diversity. 25% of these plants are orchids.
The smallest orchid discovered in Ecuador
With 2.1 mm wide and transparent petals, the Teagueia puroana orchid from the Platystele genus grows in the cloud forests of Ecuador. Botanist Lou Jost, from the Ecominga Foundation, discovered this orchid in the Cerro Candelaria Ecological Reserve, located between the Llanganates National Park and the Sangay National Park, near the town of Baños de Agua Santa, in the Tungurahua Province, according to the Puro Coffee Website, a World Land Trust associate.
The Teagueia puroana orchid, with its name in honor of Puro Coffee, grows on the lower branches and trunks of small trees and isolated from other vegetation. After more than 10 years of exploring the upper Pastaza River Basin, by accident, Jost found this orchid when picking up a larger plant. "I saw that down among the roots of the plant there was another slightly smaller. I realized that it was more interesting that the largest orchid," said the scientist, who was quoted by the Science 1 Website.
Cloud forests are ideal for the development of endemic ecosystems. Dr. Jost has been conducting a mapping of the distribution of orchids to learn more of the evolutionary process of new species. The scientist is convinced that there is still much to be discovered for science in terms of new species of orchids and other plants, as Puro Coffee noted in its Website.
Places to observe orchids
There are severalareas in Ecuador that you can visit to see these flowers. In Quito they can mainly be observed in the Botanical Garden, located in La Carolina Park in the north of Quito. There's a greenhouse dedicated to the main species of orchids that Ecuador has.
Nanegalito is located northwest of the Pichincha Province. Its area of influence contains the Pahuma Ecological Reserve, located at kilometer 43 of the Calacalí-Nanegalito-La Independencia Highway. It houses more than 200 species of orchids. Here there is also the Maquipucuna Reserve with 5,665 hectares, located near the Nanegal Parish. The Bellavista Eco Hotel is found here and it is accessed through the detour at kilometer 54 of the same highway.
On the other hand, in the city of Guayaquil, there is the Botanical Garden located in the Orchids Citadel, in the Paschal Parish. Its main attraction is the display of orchids. In total, there are 324 species of plants from Ecuador, including orchids.
Other idealsites to observe orchids are near the Baños-Puyo Highway, located between the Tungurahua and Pastaza Provinces, in the center of the country. It is also possible to observe them in any area of the eastern or western Andes foothills, in areas where there is a cloud forest. It is so easy to spot orchids here and for this reason Ecuador is called the country of orchids.