morganii is one of the 13 species
of orchids endemic to the Buenaventura
Reserve and surrounding hills.
The Buenaventura reserve is
located above Piñas in the province of El Oro, in southwest
Ecuador. It was created by the Jocotoco Foundation to protect
the El Oro Parakeet, a new species discovered here in the 1980's
by Jocotoco director Robert Ridgely. It is the only protected
forest in the province, and so it is likely to be extremely
important for plants as well as for birds. Thirteen orchid species
are known only from the Piñas-Zaruma area, and these
must be severely endangered by the rampant deforestation in
the region. In the coming decades the Buenaventura Reserve will
be the only habitat available for these orchids. Click
here for a chart of the endangered orchids known only from the
Piñas-Zaruma area and surrounding hills.
These species are found nowhere else on earth. (My principle
reference is the Libro Rojo de Plantas Endemicas
del Ecuador 2000, R. Valencia, N. Pitman, S. Leon-Yanez,
and P. Jorgensen (eds), orchid chapter by L. Endara, Publicaciones
del Herbario QCA, Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Ecuador,
Quito. This is supplemented and corrected by Dr Calaway Dodson's
unpublished Orchids of Ecuador database,
updated Dec. 2002 and kindly provided to me by Dr Dodson.)
My initial visit to the Buenaventura
Reserve was with the Jocotoco directors for a few days in March
2003. This was a birding trip rather than a botanical trip,
so we sampled only a very few of the different vegetation types
that occur in the reserve. I must return to do a proper survey.
Nevertheless, in my brief visit I saw many species of orchids
and found interesting plants of other families as well. I found
two of the13 Piñas-Zaruma endemic orchid species inside
the Buenaventura Reserve, and I expect most of the others will
eventually be found inside it as well. In addition I discovered
a new Habenaria orchid (shown in the photo at left;
click here for
more detailed photos of the preserved specimen).
area is especially rich in begonia species, and one of the most
interesting plants I found on the trip was Begonia ludwigii,
a species listed by the IUCN as "Endangered" and previously
thought to be endemic to the Huigra area 150 km to the north
of Buenaventura. The Huigra area hosts many unique plant species,
but it is extremely deforested and many of its endemics have
not been seen since the 1940s. The presence of Begonia ludwigii
at Buenaventura suggests that perhaps other endangered
Huigra endemics also can be found in the Buenaventura Reserve.
This would make Buenaventura a very important reserve indeed;
there are no other protected areas near Huigra or Piñas.
here for my collection data from this reserve,
with identifications and photos as they become available.
rhizomaniacum LJ 5613