Conclusions

    In Tapichalaca in extreme southeastern Ecuador there are four sympatric forms of Lepanthes nummularia that are each distinctive. I am sure these are each different species. I refer to them for now as Forms A, B, C, and D. These are shown in the photos below:

 

Form A
Form B
Form C
Form D
Lateral views. Note lip and column differences. All photos are at the same scale so differences in sizes are real.

 

      In the eastern Andes north of Tapichalaca there are three forms of L. nummularia, shown below. One of these, at far right, is clearly the same as Form D of Tapichalaca. Another of these, which I call Form F, at far left, is probably the same as Form A of Tapichalaca. The two middle photos below show the third form, which I call Form E, probably the same as Form C of Tapichalaca. It may be a geographical variation of this Tapichalaca form or it may be good species. We may need DNA analysis to settle this question definitively. Dr. Mark Wilson and his students will investigate this problem.

 

Form F, probably same as Form A of Tapichalaca in the banos area
Form E from Cerro Abitagua
Another Form E, from Cordillera Garcia Moreno
Form D from Cerro Abitagua
Form F, probably same as Form A of Tapichalaca in the banos area
Form E from Cerro Abitagua
Another Form E, from Cordillera Garcia Moreno in the banos area
Side view of this Form D is not yet available.

 

  Dr Luer, in his monograph of Lepanthes subgenus Brachycladium, provides two illustrations of Lepanthes nummularia. Below is one of the illustrations, of a specimen collected near La Bonita in northeast Ecuador (Luer 1994). His other illustration is of a specimen from northern Colombia. Both are referrable to my Form E (see photo above), which I have recorded from La Bonita in northeast Ecuador to the Paute-Mendez Road in southeast Ecuador. It is the most widespread form.

 

This drawing by Dr. Luer illustrates what I am calling Form E.

 

The only modern collections of this species from the western Andes are of several plants rcently collected by Lorena Endara. Two of these have flowered in my greenhouse and belong to a different form, which I shall call Form G, shown below. It has a distinctive linear appressed lip. A third plant collected by Lorena in the same area has different leaves but has not flowered. Since the type specimen of L. nummularia was collected by Jameson in 1856 in the western Andes near the site of this modern collection, I suspect that his collection was of Form G or of this unflowered form. This means that if my different forms are to be split into separate species, Form G or the unflowered form would be the true L. nummularia. Morphology suggests that Form G is distinct from any eastern forms, but we should await the results of Dr Mark Wilson's DNA analysis in order to be sure.

 

Form G from Los Cedros.
Lateral view of Form G from Los Cedros.

 

In conclusion, the existence of four sympatric noninterbreeding forms of Lepanthes nummularia at Tapichalaca in southeast Ecuador proves that there are really four valid species there, Form A, Form B, Form C, and Form D. In east central and northeast Ecuador we have three forms, Form D (the same Form D of Tapichalaca) and Forms E and F. Form E may be the same as Form C from Tapichalaca; Form F may be the same as Form A from Tapichalaca. I await DNA analysis to be sure. Finally, there is at least one form in western Ecuador, Form G, and this is probably the true L. nummularia. I propose to split L. nummularia into between four and six species, depending on how we treat Form G (this would probably be the true L. nummularia) and whether we can combine Form E with Form C. DNA analysis (currently being arranged) will decide the issue. If I had to guess right now based on morphology, I would combine A and F, and I would also combine E with C.  I would be uncomfortable doing that, though.

There are two published synonyms of L. nummularia. One, L. "polygonoides", was collected by Jameson probably in western Ecuador, and probably represents Form G again. The other, L. "ospinae", was collected in northern Colombia and may represent either Form E or a new form. Old pressed herbarium specimens of these tiny, fragile flowers are notoriously hard to interpret, but Dr Carl Luer's nearby collection No. 8871 preserved in alcohol may shed light on the identity of this form. Stig Dalstrom has kindly photographed the type specimen of L. nummularia for me in Vienna, and when these photos are examined I may be able to tell which is the real L. nummularia.

 

Paute-Mendez Road (230 km N of Tapichalaca)

Banos (370 km N of Tapichalaca)

Sumaco-Galeras National Park (460 km N of Tapichalaca)

La Bonita, near Colombian border (550 km N of Tapichalaca)

Forms from Los Cedros, in the western Andes (530 km N of Tapichalaca)

Conclusions

 

Literature Cited:

Luer, Carlyle. 1994. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XI: Systematics of Lepanthes Subgenus Brachycladium and Pleurothallis Subgenus Aenigma, Subgenus Elongatia, Subgenus Kraenzlinella. Monogr. Syst. Bot. 52. St. Louis, Missouri.

 

 

Contents

Introduction and Tapichalaca Forms of Lepanthes nummularia

Forms from the Paute-Mendez Road (230 km N of Tapichalaca)

Forms from Banos (370 km N of Tapichalaca)

Forms from Sumaco-Galeras National Park (460 km N of Tapichalaca)

Forms from La Bonita, near Colombian border (550 km N of Tapichalaca)

Forms from Los Cedros, in the western Andes (530 km N of Tapichalaca)

Conclusions