All photos by Francisco Miranda and are taken from the book ORCHIDS FROM THE BRAZILIAN AMAZON
The Amazon is the largest equatorial rain forest on Earth and the Amazon region occupies
approximately half the surface of Brazilian territory coinciding with the whole northern region of the country.
Its relief varies from altitude inferior to 200m above sea level to 800m. The Amazon basin climate is considered warm, with annual average temperatures of over 24o C which is lower in bordering areas. Rainfall is not uniform and its annual averages are over 3,000mm in some regions.
The Amazon flora is extremely varied and in the book "Orchids from the Brazilian Amazon", Francisco Miranda discloses part of the wonderful Brazilian orchidaceae flora. Although he considers that there is much more to be found, mainly the species of small flowers, he thinks it is possible to draw a basic profile of this flora.
The genus most represented in number of species is Catasetum, with more than 40 species already described and some others still to be described corresponding approximately two thirds of the genus species known in Brazil. Almost all the species of Mormodes and Cycnoches also occur in the Amazon, so we can deduce that the Catasetum has the its main distribution area in the region.
The species of Maxillaria and Pleurothallis are also numerous. From approximately 150 species of Maxillaria existing in Brazil, at about 20% occur in Amazon region. Amazingly, Laelia is completely absent and Cattleya is represented by few species, three with widespread distribution in the lowlands and two only in the mountains which border the region with Venezuela.
There are typically Amazon genera where every or almost every species occurs there. Some of the most characteristic and ornamental of them are Acacallis, Batemania, Caularthon, Coryanthes, Galeandra, Paphinia, Peristeria and Zygosepalum. We can find species of Encyclia, Epidendrum and Oncidium among others which are typically Amazon although the greatest concentration of species occurs in the Southeast region.
So vast region presents such tremendous variety of habitats that they had been divided into five topics in the book:
Dry-land Forests of Amazon, dense rain forest and occupy the most part of the Amazon Basin. This is the region which presents the smallest number of species and individual orchids. In this habitat, grow Paphinia cristata and grandiflora (one of the most ornamental species which flowers can reach 8cm across), Batemania colleyi, Cattleya luteola, Cattleya violacea, small species of Maxillaria, Scaphyglottis amazonica, species of Trigonidium, Trichocentrum albo-coccineum, Mormodes hirsutissimum, Catasetum barbatum, rondonense, gnomus and Cattleya luteola, among some others.
Central Amazon Campinas (Woodlands) are dry-land forests which are different from the rain forest because of its sandy soil. The orchidaceae flora reach the highest point in the enormous variety of species and quantity of individuals in this kind of vegetation. Cattleya eldorado is extremely abundant in the Central-Amazon Woodlands. Anacheilium fragrans, Brassavola martiana, Catasetum discolor, Cattleya eldorado, Caularthron bicornutum, Encyclia mapuerae, Epidendrum huebneri, paniculatum, nocturnum, Maxillaria amazonica, Rodriguezia lanceolata, Scuticaria stellii, occur in this region besides numerous other species of Dichaea, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Maxillaria, Octomeria, Ornithidium, Pleurothallis and Stelis.
In Igarapés, igapós and várzeas (Várzeas and flood plains) which are environments under direct aquatic influence, we can find Acacallis cyanea, Bifrenaria longicornis, Brassavola martiana, Catasetum saccatum, juruenense, rolfeanum, tigrinum, barbatum, rivularium, Cattleya violacea, Caularthron bicornutum, Clowesia amazonica, Coryanthes maculata, Galeandra devoniana, Psygmorhcis pusilla, Zygosepalum labiosum, lindeniae, species of Galeandra, Ondicium cebolleta, lanceanum, Schomburgkia crispa, species of Gongora, Coryanthes, Mormodes, Ionopsis, among many others.
Border Regions of Amazon can be divided into many habitats: Mountain ranges in North Brazil, Rocky water courses, Rocky outcrops and Chapada dos Parecis (Parecis plateau). Francisco Miranda considers this is where the widest variety of species dicovered and to be discovered can be found. In those regions occur species of Catasetum, Encyclia, Galeandra, Habenaria, Maxillaria, Mormodes, Sobralia, Vanilla, Pleurothallis and close genera as Octomeria and Stelis. Among many species approached in this book, we have Acineta alticola Catasetum ariquemense, bicallosum, stenoglossum, denticulatum, semicirculatum, osculatum (known as saccatum), pileatum, lanceatum, Cattleya lawrenceana (mountain regions in the North), Cattleya violacea, Chaubardia klugii, Cycnoches haagii, Galeandra stangeana, Lockhartia ludibunda, Macradenia multiflora, Mormodes densiflorum, elegans, hoehnei, Lycaste macrophylla, macrobulbon, Maxillaria auyantepuyiensis, unguiculata, Mormodes densiflorum, elegans, Pleurothallis grobyi, Sobralia rondonii. In those regions we can even find Cyrtopodim andersonni although rare.
Tucuruí Hydroelectric Power (Pará). The most part of the environments ended up under water when the reservoir was filled so, in this case, the comments are just to register this but there is a diversity of habitats not all currently under water. The habits have been divided into: Dry land forests, Gallery forest, campinas (woodlands).Many genus are represented there: Anacheilium, Aspasia, Brassavola, Bulbophyllum, Campylocentrum, Catasetum, Cattleya, Encyclia, Epidendrum, Ionopsis, Notylia, Oncidium, Ornithocephalus, Pleurothallis, Polystachya, Psygmorchis, Rodriguezia, Schomburgkia, Sobralia, Stanhopea, Stelis.