Our small apartment is now home to several Ecuador orchids from the highlands of Cotacachi, the Intag rainforest and the coast. I love to watch the gorgeous blooms unfold and they can last for weeks at a time, adding spectacular color, style and elegance to our penthouse space.
Ecuador has a large number of orchid species. Almost 4000 species of orchid have been discovered and recorded in this small country, including the world’s smallest orchid. Unique , rare and sometimes strange-looking flowers, orchids are of great importance to the economy of Ecuador.
"The most recent count of the number of orchid species in Ecuador is 3,787 which is the highest number recorded and validated with voucher specimens of any country in the world." ( Calaway H. Dodson, PHD , author of "Native Ecuadorian Orchids")
Photo by Lou Jost
The world’s smallest orchid was recently discovered in Ecuador. It is only 2.1mm wide and transparent.
The scientist who discovered it, Dr. Lou Jost, is a mathematical ecologist, a conservation scientist and an expert orchid hunter. He has found 60 new species of orchids in the last ten years. This smallest orchid was growing in the roots of another small orchid.
He found the orchid in the Cerro Candelaria reserve, a 2113 hectare cloud forest in Ecuador. It is being classified as a new species of Platystele.
If you happen to be in Ecuador in the Cuenca/Gualaceo area, check out Ecuadgenera to find out more about Ecuador orchids and see many of the species in full bloom.
Ecuagenera , Cía . Ltda . is the largest cultivator and seller of orchids that are native to Ecuador. Their website gives great information on the orchids of Ecuador and how to grow them successfully. Many of them need high humidity and must be cultivated in a greenhouse setting when taken out of their natural environment.
Here’s their webpage that lists many of the species of orchids found in Ecuador, along with a color picture and pricing:
Meanwhile, until you have one of your own Ecuador orchids, you can live vicariously through me, enjoying the lovely local orchid that grows so prolifically in my terrace planter box. I stuck a piece of one into the dirt about a year ago. The plant was growing dry and neglected on the windy public roof patio and I rescued a bit of it. Evidently this type of orchid can survive long periods with little or no water, because the pot it was in hadn’t been watered in months.
For weeks, long slender stems grow rapidly from the base of leaves and then burst into a cluster of small, brilliant fuscia-colored orchids on the stem point. These orchids remain perfect for a month or more, swaying delicately in contrast to the giant presence of Imbabura volcano in the background.
My son Scott brought me this orchid and within weeks it had quickly entwined a schefflera in our kitchen. The delicate flowers have an interior that looks like a dog in a hat with a mouth-full of white teeth. The overall flower resembles a human puppet in a ruffled costume with arms, legs and a plumed headdress.