NEW PLEUROTHALLID ORCHIDS FROM THE CORDILLERA
DEL CONDOR OF ECUADOR
Moore Institute, Baños, Tungurahua, Ecuador
South American Explorers Club, Apdo. 17-21-431, Eloy Alfaro,
Recent expeditions to the Cordillera del Condor in southeastern
Ecuador have uncovered three new species of Orchidaceae, subtribe
Pleurothallidinae. Brachionidium condorense L. J. Jost,
B. deflexum L. J. Jost, and Lepanthes neillii
L. J. Jost are described. The overall species composition of
the primarily epiphytic genus Lepanthes in the Cordillera
del Condor is similar to that of other front-line foothill ranges
in the eastern Andes of Ecuador. The species composition of
primarily terrestrial Brachionidium, on the other hand,
appears to be unusual and distinctive.
Key Words: Brachionidium, Lepanthes, condorense,
deflexum, neillii, Ecuador
The Cordillera del Condor is a remote
mountain range on the border between Ecuador and Peru. The highest
peaks of this range reach elevations of 2900 m, and these are
separated from similar elevations in the main body of the Andes
by the 40 km wide valley of the Rio Zamora. The peaks are not
only geographically isolated but geologically unique in Ecuador,
consisting of a complex mosaic of white sand, limestone, and
granite, very different from the primarily volcanic Andes. Because
of this isolation and unusual geology, the Cordillera del Condor
supports a very unusual flora, including several disjunct genera
otherwise found only on Venezuelan tepuis (D. Neill, pers. com.)
The flora remains poorly known in spite of its biological interest,
because the area has long been the focus of border conflicts
between Ecuador and Peru, and entry was restricted. Since the
signing of a peace treaty in the year 2000, the Missouri Botanical
Garden Cordillera del Condor Project under Dr. David Neill,
director of the Herbario Nacional del Ecuador (QCNE), has undertaken
a thorough study of the area.
The author accompanied
Dr. Neill and other botanists on two of the project’s
expeditions. The first expedition, in March 2000, reached a
white sand mesa at an elevation of 2000 m near the Shuar settlement
of Tinkimints. The second expedition, in December 2002, reached
high granite peaks at an elevation of 2700 m. Both expeditions
resulted in the discovery of new Orchidaceae, including Maxillaria
jostii Dodson (Dodson 2003) and the following three new
species in the subtribe Pleurothallidinae.
1. Brachionidium condorense L. J.
Jost, sp. nov. Type: Ecuador. Prov. Morona-Santiago: terrestrial
on mountaintop above Warints, Cordillera del Condor, 3°
15' 24" S, 78° 19' 10" W, approx. 2700 m, 15 Dec
2002, L. Jost, D. Neill, J. Clark, W. Quishpe et al. 4686 (Holotype:
QCNE). Figure 1.
Ety.: After the Cordillera del Condor, where this species was
found, and in allusion to the broad wing-like lobes of the lip.
Planta mediocris erecta rhizomate crasso vaginis longimucronatis,
foliis ellipticis, flore atropurpureo cupuliformi, sepalis petalisque
ciliatis, synsepalo superiore profunde concavo bicaudato, sepalo
impare caudato, petalis longicaudatis, labello transverse obovoideo,
lobis lateralibus planiformibus incurvis, apice obtuso apiculato,
marginibus ambabus concavis, disco incrassito cum callo pubescenti
Fig. 1. Bracionidium condorense
L. J. Jost
Plant small in size, terrestrial, suberect to
erect, up to 11 cm tall; rhizome relatively stout, occasionally
branching, 10-12 mm long between ramicauls, enclosed by 2-3
pale, tubular, long-mucronate muriculate sheaths; roots stout.
Ramicauls relatively stout, suberect, 4-5 mm long, enclosed
by 2 long-mucronate pale sheaths. Leaf suberect, thickly coriaceous,
ovate to lanceolate, acute, olive green above, purple below,
15-18 mm long, 7-8 mm wide, with 7 veins, the round base contracted
into a stout petiole .5 mm long. Inflorescence a solitary, nonresupinate
flower born by a slender suberect peduncle 20 mm long, with
a bract near the middle, from near the apex of the ramicaul;
floral bract 4.5 mm long, inflated, acute, mucronate, enclosing
the pedicel and part of the ovary; pedicel .6 mm long, with
a filament 6 mm long; ovary 2.3 mm long; sepals purple with
green bases and yellow tips, ciliate, the dorsal sepal elliptical,
acute, long-acuminate, the blade 7 mm long, 6 mm wide, 3-veined,
the tail filiform, 4 mm long; lateral sepals connate into an
ovate, acute, long-acuminate synsepal, the blade 8 mm long,
7 mm wide, 5-veined including suture; the filiform connate tails
5 mm long, free for 1.5 mm ; petals purple, green basally, ovate,
subfalcate, acute, acuminate, the blade 7 mm long, 5 mm wide,
3-veined, margins ciliate, abruptly contracted into filiform
tails 5 mm long; lip green suffused purple, subquadrate, extended
laterally into incurving flattened wings 1.3 mm long, bimarginate,
the apex apiculate, 1.9 mm long, about 3.3 mm wide in the natural
position, the disc raised, densely long-papillose basally, longitudinally
channeled apically, forming two confluent straight parallel
longitudinal ridges on the apical half of the lip, hinged to
the column foot; column stout, 1.6 mm long, bidentate; pollinia
Paratype: Ecuador. Prov. Morona-Santiago: terrestrial on mountaintop
above Warints, Cordillera del Condor, 3° 15' 24" S,
78° 19' 10" W, approx. 2700 m, 15 Dec 2002, L. Jost,
D. Neill, J. Clark, W. Quishpe, et al. 4685 (MO).
This species and the next
are characterized by thick dark olive green leaves flushed
purple below, and by purple flowers bearing a cucullate
synsepal. Both are superficially similar to sympatric
B. galeatum Luer and Hirtz (Luer 1995). B.
condorense is easily distinguished by the broad flat
incurved lateral lobes of the strongly bimarginate lip.
2. Brachionidium deflexum L. J. Jost,
sp. nov. Type: Ecuador. Prov. Morona-Santiago: terrestrial on
mountaintop above Warints, Cordillera del Condor, 3° 15'
24" S, 78° 19' 10" W, approx. 2700 m, 15 Dec 2002,
L. Jost , D. Neill, J. Clark, W. Quishpe et al. 4775 (Holotype:
QCNE). Figure 2.
Ety.: From the Latin deflexum, “deflexed”, in reference
to the sharply deflexed lip.
Species haec B. condorense similis, sed foliis minoribus obovatis
et labello ovato deflexo bimarginato sine lobis planiformibus,
et cum callo basali papilloso differt.
Fig. 2. Bracionidium deflexum
L. J. Jost
Plant small in size, terrestrial, erect, up to
10 cm tall; rhizome relatively stout, occasionally branching,
10-12 mm long between ramicauls, enclosed by 3-4 pale, inflated,
tubular, long-mucronate, muriculate sheaths 5 mm in total length;
roots stout. Ramicauls relatively stout, suberect, 2-3 mm long,
enclosed by 2 long-mucronate muriculate sheaths. Leaf suberect,
thickly coriaceous, ovate, acute, olive green above, purple
below, 8-10 mm long, 6 mm wide, 7- veined, the round base contracted
into a stout petiole 1 mm long. Inflorescence a solitary, nonresupinate
flower born by a slender suberect peduncle 18 mm long, with
a bract near the middle, from near the middle of the ramicaul;
floral bract 4 mm total length, inflated, acute, mucronate,
enclosing the pedicel and part of the ovary; pedicel .6 mm long,
with a filament 4 mm long; ovary 2 mm long; sepals purple, sparsely
ciliate, the dorsal sepal elliptical-ovate, acute, long-acuminate,
the blade 5 mm long, 4.6 mm wide, 3-veined, with a shallow mentum,
the tail filiform, 4 mm long; lateral sepals connate into an
ovate, acute, long-acuminate synsepal, the blade 4 mm long,
5 mm wide, 4-veined; the filiform connate tails 4.2 mm long,
free for 1.8 mm; petals purple, ciliate, ovate, acute, acuminate,
the blade 4 mm long, 3 mm wide, 3-veined, abruptly contracted
into filiform tails 4 mm long; lip purple, broadly lingulate,
completely deflexed above the middle, bimarginate, the apex
rounded, 3-4 mm long, 2.4 mm wide, the disc raised, densely
long-papillose basally, longitudinally channeled apically, forming
two incurved ridges on the apical third of the lip, with a small
depression between the terminus of the ridges and the apex of
the lip, hinged to the column foot; column stout, 1.8 mm long,
bidentate; pollinia 8.
This species, with its leathery dark olive leaves flushed purple
below, and with purple flowers bearing a somewhat cucullate
synsepal, closely resembles B. condorense, though all
parts are smaller. The lip, however, is very different, being
completely deflexed at the middle, and without the long flat
incurved lobes of B. condorense. The large basal callus
is densely papillose. Only one plant was found in flower.
3. Lepanthes neillii L. J. Jost,
sp. nov. Type: Ecuador. Prov. Morona-Santiago: flowered in cultivation
by L. Jost in Dec 2001; epiphytic in cloud forest above Tinkimints,
3° 16' W, 78°10' S, 2000 m, 21 March 2000, L Jost, D.
Neill, P. Berry, J. Manzanares, B. Patterson, E. Escobar 3154
(Holotype: QCNE; Isotypes: MO, QCA). Figure 3.
Ety.: After Dr. David Neill, Director of the Herbario Nacional
del Ecuador, and leader of its Cordillera del Condor expeditions.
Planta mediocris caespitosa inflorescentia racemosa laxa longipedicillata,
folio elliptico, sepalis lateralibus ovatis tenuicaudatis, petalis
transverse bilobis, lobo superiore oblongo apice oblique obtuso,
lobo inferiore triangulare, labelli laminis subquadratis grandibus,
connectivis late cuneatis, corpore crasso antice concavo, appendice
bilobata, columna ovarioque cristatis.
Fig. 3. Lepanthes neillii
L. J. Jost
Plant small in size, epiphytic, caespitose; roots slender.
Ramicauls slender, erect, 2-6 cm long, enclosed by 4-8 tightly
fitting, ciliate, lepanthiform sheaths, purplish when fresh,
drying light tan. Leaf erect, thinly coriaceous, elliptical,
acute, 2.5-3 cm long, .7-.9 cm wide, the tapering base contracted
into a petiole 1 mm long. Inflorescence a loose, lightly flexuous,
successively 2-10 flowered raceme up to 3 cm long, born below
the leaf by a minute peduncle up to 2 mm long; floral bract
about .6 mm long; pedicel about .7 mm long; ovary .8 mm long,
carinate; sepals yellow, the dorsal sepal ovate, 3.5 mm long,
2.5 mm wide, the apex prolonged into a tail 2.5-3.5 mm long,
connate to the lateral sepals for .6 mm, the lateral sepals
oblique, ovate, 3.5 mm long, 2.5 mm wide, connate 1.5-2 mm,
the apices prolonged into tails 4-5 mm long; petals yellow,
heavily suffused with red, transversely bilobed, minutely pubescent,
1 mm long, 3 mm wide, the upper lobe triangular-oblong, apex
rounded, the lower lobe shorter, triangular, rounded; lip red,
bilaminate, the blades broadly subquadrate with rounded apices,
1 mm long, short-pubescent, embracing the column, the connectives
thin, nearly as long as blades, the body narrow, the appendix
a small bilobed flap, pubescent; column 1.3 mm long, with an
apical crest, the anther dorsal, the stigma ventral.
This species from a white sand
region of the Cordillera del Condor is easily distinguished
from all other Ecuadorian species (Luer 1996, 1998a, 1998b,
1999, 2000, 2002) by the combination of the loose inflorescence,
ornately crested column and ovary, broad wing-like blades of
the lip, and long sepaline tails. It appears to have no close
relatives. Only one plant was found in spite of extensive searching;
it was flowered in cultivation.
The Lepanthes species diversity
of the high Cordillera del Condor is less than that of similar
elevations in the main body of the eastern Andes. Species found
during our expeditions include L. bifalcis Luer, L.
condorensis Luer and Hirtz, L. monitor Luer, L.
mucronata Lindl., L. orchestris Luer and Vasquez,
L. papyrophylla Rchb. f., L. serialina Luer
and Jost, L. series Luer and Hirtz, L. surrogata
Luer and Hirtz, L. tachirensis Foldats, and L.
tectorum Luer and Hirtz, in addition to the presently described
L. neillii. Most of these species are also found on
the main body of the eastern Andes of Ecuador, on foothill ranges
such as the Cordillera Guacamayos (Napo Province) or the Cordillera
Abitagua (Tungurahua/Pastaza Provinces). The geographic isolation
of the Cordillera del Condor does not appear to be a significant
impediment to the dispersal of orchid seeds. With respect to
Lepanthes, a mostly epiphytic genus, the Cordillera
del Condor appears to be just another eastern foothill range,
though bigger than most. One suspects that L. neillii
will also eventually be found outside the Cordillera del Condor;
this genus has been very incompletely sampled in eastern Ecuador.
On the other hand, the diversity
of the primarily terrestrial genus Brachionidium on
the 2700 m peak of the Cordillera del Condor is exceptionally
high, including B. ballatrix Luer and Hirtz , B.
galeatum, B. condorense, B. deflexum,
and an as yet unidentified fifth species represented by a sterile
collection in cultivation. The unusual geology of the Condor
probably facilitates the evolution of endemic species in such
terrestrial genera. It is worth noting that the new Maxillaria
found during these expeditions, M. jostii Dodson, is
also a terrestrial species.
These expeditions were
sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Garden Cordillera del Condor
Project, and I would like to thank Dr. Neill, the project director,
for inviting me. My work is sponsored by John and Ruth Moore,
the San Diego County Orchid Society, and the Population Biology
Foundation; I am grateful for their continued support. Special
thanks to Dr. Carl Luer for his constant help and advice.
Dodson, C. 2003. Maxillaria jostii Dodson. Harvard
Pap. Bot. 7: 437.
Luer, C. A. 1994. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XI. Systematics
of Lepanthes subgenus Brachycladium and Pleurothallis
subgenus Aenigma, subgenus Elongatia, subgenus Kraenzlinella.
Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 52: 1—50.
----- 1995. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XII. Systematics of
Brachionidium, Addenda to Dresslerella, Platystele,
and Porroglossum (Orchidaceae). Monogr. Syst. Bot.
Missouri Bot. Gard. 57:1—139.
----- 1996. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XIV. Systematics of
Draconanthes, Lepanthes subgen. Marsipanthes
and subgen. Lepanthes of Ecuador (Orchidaceae). Monogr. Syst.
Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 61:1--255.
----- 1998a. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVI. Systematics of
Pleurothallis subgenera Crocodeilanthe, Rhynchopera,
Talpinaria, Addenda to Lepanthes of Ecuador, Masdevallia,
Platystele, Pleurothallis, Restrepia, and Scaphosepalum
(Orchidaceae). Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 65:101—107.
----- 1998b. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVII. Systematics of
subgenus Pleurothallis sect. Abortivae, sect. Truncatae, sect.
Pleurothallis subsect. Acroniae, subsect. Pleurothallis, subgen.
Dracontia, subgen. Unciferia, Addenda to Dracula, Lepanthes,
Masdevallia, Porroglossum, and Scaphosepalum (Orchidaceae).
Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 72: 104—109.
----- 1999. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVIII. Systematics of
Pleurothallis subgenus Pleurothallis sect. Pleurothallis
subsect. Antenniferae, subsect. Longiracemosae, subsect. Macrophyllae-Racemosae,
subsect. Perplexae, subgenus Pseudostelis, subgenus Acuminatia,
Addenda to Dracula, Lepanthes, Masdevallia, and Pleurothallis.
Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 76: 139—148.
----- 2000. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XX. Systematics of Jostia,
Andinia, Barbosella, Barbodria, and Pleurothallis subgenus
Antilla, subgenus Effusia, subgenus Restrepioidia, Addenda to
Lepanthes, Masdevallia, Platystele, Pleurothallis,
Restrepiopsis, Scaphosepalum, and Teagueia. Monogr.
Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 79: 117—135.
-----. 2002. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXIV. A First Century
of New Species of Stelis of Ecuador Part 1; Addenda
to the Lepanthes of Ecuador, Addenda to Barbosella,
Dracula, Dresslerella, Lepanthopsis, Platystele, Pleurothallis,
Restrepia, Scaphosepalum, Teagueia, and Trichosalpinx.
Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 88: 87—93.