A Belgium Botanist Introduces The Pleurothallidinae; a sub-tribe of the Orchidaceae

peter with orchid on stump Peter Peeters with Maxillaria sp. in the foreground.

Epiphytes are abundant here at Mount Totumas. Big gaudy bromeliads and abundant orchids can be found throughout the region, especially in the micro climates created in the areas more exposed to the Bajareque mists. To a casual observer the larger species already reveal an abundant diversity. It is when we start to focus on the diminutive that the true dimension of epiphyte diversity begins to reveal itself.

Peter Peeters, a Belgium Botanist, and his wife Else, visited MTCF for a couple of days and Peter introduced us to his specialty; The Pleurothallidinae, a neo-tropical Sub tribe of orchids that are estimated to have around 4000 species.

Taxonomy Family: Orchidaceae
Sub Family: Epidendrodae
Tribe: Epidendrae
Sub Tribe: Pleurothallidinae

_PHP5866 Lecanthes sp.

These are tiny orchids, blossoms are a few milimeters in size, once introduced to their existance, you suddenly realize there is a micro botanical garden of orchids growing on the same trees as the larger bromeliads and orchids.

_PHP5857 Lecanthes sp.

orch5 pp Lecanthes sp.

Peter introduced us also to the value of small pastures in the higher elevations of MTCF and La Amistad NP. In closed forests these micro species of orchids can be found mainly in the bright light of the canopy. Old pastures with scattered trees bring bright light down to the lower trunks and branches where these tiny orchids can be found with relative ease. We discovered such a pasture around 2100m, a still active homestead within La Amistad NP. And here we discovered many species of orchids, including members of this remarkable sub tribe of Pleurothallidinae.

estrivi pasture 2
Pasture at 2100m inside la Amistad NP

estrivi pasture 1
Scattered trees in the pasture have epiphytes down to the base of the tree due to the open bright light

mamacillo estrivi 2

peter in pasture Peter P. surveying the pasture

peter pict take
Macro lens required for photography of micro orchids

orch 1 pp
Maxillaria sp.

orch 8 pp
Specklinia sp.

orch 10 pp

_PHP5533Telipogon sp. This species is restricted to the cool climates of high elevations and grows on moss.

Goodyeara  ? sp. Goodyeara sp.

_PHP5502 Goodyeara sp.

_PHP5535Pleurothalis sp.

_PHP5533Epidendrum sp.

orch 11 ppArpophyllum sp. ?

Peter was kind enough to go through our MTCF gallery of orchid photos and identify many of the species.

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