New orchid species discovered in our Dracula Reserve: Pleurothallis chicalensis


Pleurothallis chicalensis. Photo: Andreas Kay

Our Dracula Reserve in northwest Ecuador has been the source of many orchid discoveries lately, so many in fact that I am rather far behind in reporting them here.  This is the newest discovery, just published yesterday by M. Jimenez, L. Baquero, M. Wilson, and G. Iturralde in the journal Lankesteriana. It is a bright yellow Pleurothallis which was first found by Luis Baquero and Gabriel Iturralde, and later found by Javier Robayo (EcoMinga’s executive director), Hector Yela (our reserve guard) and Andreas Kay (photographer and author of the web page Ecuador Megadiverso) in 2013 in what is now the Cerro Oscuro unit of our Dracula Reserve. The first scientific collection was made in 2016 by Luis Baquero, one of the architects of our reserve design. He found it near what is now the Cerro Colorado unit of the Dracula Reserve, and again on Cerro Oscuro. It was also recognized in a photograph taken near the La Planada reserve in nearby Colombia. The authors named it after the small town of Chical, the nearest community, so that community members might feel some pride in the biodiversity of the magnificent forests which still survive there.


Pleurothallis chicalensis plant. Note flower at far right. Photo: Andreas Kay.

4 thoughts on “New orchid species discovered in our Dracula Reserve: Pleurothallis chicalensis

  1. Wonderful. Are there insect species specifically associated with these small orchids (in general, not just this new one)?

    • Thanks Steve. The flowers of orchids usually have evolved to manipulate a very specific small set of insect species, often just a single species. But the insect often has no dependence on the orchid; it is rather being tricked. There are a few exceptions, such as the famous Euglossine “orchid bees”, where genuine co-evolution appears to have happened.

  2. Send me a picture and I will see what I can do. Vilcabamba is a very well studied area, so I would be surprised if the species was new, but one never knows. My email username is loujost on gmail.

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