A plant person, I am not, and I’m even less of a flower person. However, Ecuador is a bio-diversity hot spot, and I would be amiss if I didn’t at least check out some of Ecuador’s offering. I would also be de-friended by one of my best friends who not only has a master’s degree in plant pathology [I can’t even], but also grows orchids in one of his many home greenhouses.
Whilst in Ecuador I went to not only the Orchidarium in Cuenca, but also the Mindo Cloud forest about an hour north of Quito, and my favorite flower by far is the monkey faced orchid. I’m sure it has a fancy scientific name, but I like the monkey face name.
See that cute little monkey face. Talk about a flower with personality! And when it’s in full bloom, it smell like an orange. How perfect! These orchids grow in the cloud forests of Ecuador and Peru at 1000 to 2000 meters above sea level. The monkey faced orchid (along with all tropical orchids) is an epiphyte so, like an air plant, it depends on other plants for support.
Below are some of my favorite orchids from both the cloud forest and the orchidarium.
The following is the text of a press release I created for La Ceiba foundation work in the dry forest of Ecuador. I spent approximately one month in the wet forest, dry forest, and Galapagos Islands of Ecuador doing plant and animal research for La Ceiba. In part to the research I collected, La Ceiba was able to convince the Ecuadorian government to add additional protected lands.
The Bosque Seco Lalo Loor [BSLL] protects over 250 hectares of transitional semi-deciduous lowland tropical forest. The forest supports a large population of Mantled howler monkey. The reserve is located in a dry area of Ecuador’s coast where it receives a little over 1000 mm of rain each year, nearly all of it falling between January and May. For the rest of the year, the forest receives almost no rain at all.
The monkeys eat a diet of mostly leaves, but they will eat fruit if it is available.. Leaves are a good source of carbon, but they lack nitrogen; therefore the diet is not especially nutritious due to the high concentration of leaves. As a result, the monkeys live a fairly sedentary lifestyle compared to other tropical monkeys.
La Ceiba Foundation is collecting data for demography, range, and feeding habits of the monkey population. A group consists of 2 people. Each group will have binoculars, watch, compass, trail map, and a data sheet. Each group will work a separate area of the trail for four hours once in the morning and once at night. Once a monkey is encountered the group will stop and a collect data for 30 minutes.
Other notable plants and animals in the forest include:
- Howler Monkey
- White front capuchin monkey
- chestnut mandibled toucan
- choco toucan
- Ecuadoran Trogan
- Grey back hawk
- Hook-billed kite
- Palamandibled Aracari
- Red Mask Parakeet
- Boa Constrictor
- Blue Morpho Butterfly
- Helicopter Damselflies
- and several species of orchids