Of the 1,100 species of orchids of the genus Lepanthes that exist in the world, none resemble that which was recently described in Ecuador. This plant was discovered two years ago in Carchi and yesterday, Tuesday November 17, 2020, its discovery was published in the online magazine Lankesteriana.
Luis Baquero, orchid researcher at the University of the Americas and author of this article, defines the new orchid as “the missing or rarest link in the Lephantes group”. The species differs from others in size and appearance. This group is usually made up of miniature orchids, but the new species is around 40cm tall.
Also, one of its weirdest features is the shape of its blade. It is very big and marked, because it has 13 nerves. Usually, they register up to five. The flowers are also large. After its description, the species was named Lephantes tulcanensis, in honor of the canton of Tulcán.
Currently, we know the existence of two populations. Marco F. Monteros, co-author of the study, is the one who found the first specimens in an area of the Dracula reserve, owned by the EcoMinga Foundation. A few kilometers away, the other group was found. So far, the species is known to be endemic to this area near the border with Colombia. In other words, it is the only habitat of this orchid on the planet.
Baquero explains that although it was recently discovered, it is already critically endangered. The presence of mining activities in the region has become its main threat.
New species of orchid discovered in south-eastern Ecuador Generous watering promotes orchid growth