ABOUT ECUADOR

ECUADOR, A COUNTRY LIKE NO OTHER

Although small in size, Ecuador is one of the most diverse countries on the planet. Located on the equator in northwestern South America, bordering the Pacific Ocean to the west, Colombia to the north and Perú to the south and east, Ecuador has 283,561 km². and has a diverse geography and scenery. Ecuador has four geographical regions:

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ORCHIDS IN ECUADOR

Do you want to see hundreds of species of orchids any time of the year? The only place would be at the equator, with 13 hours of sunlight, 365 days of the year, ECUADOR has hundreds of different micro-climates that contribute to its orchid biodiversity.

Ecuador is considered to have, by far, the highest biodiversity of animal and plant species in the world by surface area, being ranked #5 of the most biodiverse countries.

Over 17,000 species of plants have been classified and described in this country, where 4235 species are orchids. Just about every fourth species among the various plants in primary habitats, is an orchid. Ecuador has the largest amount of orchid species ever recorded -16% of the world’s total-.

Still, there are still many other orchids awaiting official recognition, promising as many as 1,000 new species. Approximately 35% of Ecuadorian orchid species are endemic to the region. It takes a trained eye to recognize an orchid in the wild. As many of them are so small, it takes a magnifying glass to see the flowers.

One of the contestants to be the smallest flower in the world is a especies in the genus Stelis, recently discovered in Saraguro, southern Ecuador, with flowers that measure only 2 millimeters. Other orchids might have very large flowers. One of the largest would be Phragmipedium wallisii. The petals extend to one meter, and if held from tip to tip, the flower is up to two meters. Different species of orchids may grow in any type of environment, preferably in areas of less competition with other plants and often in disturbed areas as roadcuts.

Orchids growing on other plants such as trees are known as epiphytes. If borne on steep cliffs or volcanic lava flows, they are known as lithophyte. There are also about 400 species that grow in soil and are considered terrestrial orchids. The proposed theme for the 22nd WOC “A Privileged Orchid Kingdom” reflects the historical background and the intrinsic dynamism of Ecuador.

A better understanding of both, global biodiversity dynamics and Ecuadorian past, will encourage participants, especially young scientists, to focus on developing sustainable models for a productive natural resource management to promote orchid conservation nationally and globally.

GALLERY

ECUADOR ENDEMIC ORCHIDS

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