What this book is about....
( Table of Contents follows below.)
The orchid genus Lepanthes
is one of the largest plant genera in the world, and one of
the least known. Most botanists don't even try to identify them
because they seem so difficult. I believe this difficulty is
largely an illusion, a consequence of the bewildering number
of species in the genus. In this online book I try to facilitate
identification by breaking up the enormous number of Ecuadorian
Lepanthes species into more or less natural groups
that are easy to recognize. I provide a simple, visual, nontechnical
online key to these groups. If the user answers the questions
in the key, the right group of drawings for a specimen in question
will automatically download.
drawings are mostly taken from Dr. C. A. Luer's groundbreaking
monographs, Icones Pleurothallidinarum
XI: Systematics of Lepanthes subgenus Brachycladium
and Pleurothallis subgenus Aenigma, subgenus
Elongatia, subgenus Kraenzlinella and
XIV: Systematics of
and subgenus Lepanthes of
Ecuador, published in 1994 and 1996 respectively by
the Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis. They are used here
with the kind permission of Dr. Luer and the Missouri
Botanical Garden Press, which holds their copyright. Species
discovered more recently are taken from the numerous addendums
published by Dr. Luer in his Icones Pleurothallidinarum
series, now including number XXXIII. About
a dozen species that I have discovered very recently are not
yet in any Icones, and these I have
drawn myself. All photos are mine unless stated otherwise.
The drawings (and photos when available)
will appear on the screen in a new browser window as two identical
independently scrolled long documents side by side. The idea
is to scroll down one of them until finding something similar
to the species in question. Then, leaving that document alone,
scroll down the other document until finding another possible
match. With two possible matches displayed side by side, it
will be easy to decide which of them best fits the specimen.
Leave that one displayed and continue scrolling the other document
until finding another possible match. Continue the process until
the two best matches are displayed side by side on the screen,
and make the final identification by choosing the best of these
two. If there is a question about whether the right group has
been selected, start over in a different group. Since each group
opens in its own browser window, both choices can be examined
at the same time.
The alternate text for each drawing will contain some comments
relevant to identification. For example, species that are notoriously
variable will be noted as such, and these should be given a
lot of leeway when deciding whether a specimen matches the drawing.
You can read this text in most browsers just by resting the
cursor over the drawing (keep the cursor moving while you read,
or else the text will disappear after 2 seconds). Also, each
drawing is marked as either east slope, west slope, or both.
There are very few species that occupy both slopes in the Andes,
so this is a considerable help in narrowing the choices, when
the origin of the specimen is known.
I do not duplicate information in Dr. Luer's previously mentioned
monographs. Those monographs include specimen citations, detailed
descriptions, range maps, etc. The monographs can be obtained
from Missouri Botanical Garden Press.
view a chapter, click on the Contents item below. It will be
some time before I get all this on line, however. The task of
scanning and processing 320 drawings and hundreds of photos
is so big that I will probably not get it done before mid 2006.