Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda

  The "Cerrado" encloses almost 25% of the Brazilian territory, it means, at about 2 millions km² and is placed in the Central Plateau of Brazil, covering, mainly, part of the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Minas Gerais but also reaches part of several other states such as Paraná, Maranhão, Piauí, São Paulo. Inside this ecosystem born the rivers of Pantanal and part of the rivers forming the Amazon basin.
It has two well defined seasons: One is rainy and the other is extremely dried and can last for seven months. During this period, the dew of the night is the source of humidity.
The vegetation is composed by shrub and herbaceous formation. The trees are twisted, with coriaceous leaves and medium size (in general, from 3 to 6m, the highest at about 10m). They have a thick and wrinkled bark
which also protects them against the frequent fires. The soil is sandy and deep and the groundwater is relatively superficial, 20m deep, allowing, in this, the roots search for the water. All those things make possible the survival of the species and their adaptation to this inhospitable environment. This is an area exposed to frequent fires (spontaneous and provoked), however, as soon starts the rainy season, everything recovers very quickly.
A great part of the terrestrial orchids looses their leaves during the dry period and sprouts again with the rains.
  Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Cyrtopodium saintlegerianum in palm tree (photo:FM)
From the "Cerrado" comes one of the most wonderful Brazilian genera, Cyrtopodium.
"... although widely distributed on the American continent, Cyrtopodium has its great concentration in the central-western region of Brazil, particularly on the Central Plateau.... (Lou Menezes, in Orchids, Genus Cyrtopodium, Brazilian Species)

This is the center of the geographical distribution of Cyrtopodium where occurs the greatest number of species. Some species of Cyrtopodium occuring there: blanchetii, braemii, brandonianum, eugenii, fowliei, gonzalezii, parviflorum, poecilum, saintlegerianum (epyphite), triste, virescens, withenerii. Other genera join Cyrtopodium in this area:
  Bletia catenulata, Bulbophyllum, Bifrenaria tyrianthina, Campylocentrum aciculatum and other species, Catasetum ariquemense, barbatum, galeritum, longifolium, rooseveltianum, saccatum, spitzii, vinaceum,
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Cattleya walkeriana (photo:SA)

Cattleya nobilior, bicolor subs. brasiliensis, walkeriana, Cyclopogon (many species), Cycnoches haagii, Encyclia conchaechila, patens, Erythrodes sp. Eulophia alta, Galeandra beyrichii, lacustris , Habenaria (great concentration), Isochilus linearis, Lockhartia lunifera, Mormodes auriculata, sinuata, Notylia,
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Cattleya nobilior (photo:SA)
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Oncidium jonesianum photo:SA)
Oncidium blanchetti, cebolleta, fuscopetalum, jonesianum, macropetalum, pumilum spilopterum, Pelexia (many species), Phragmipedium caricinum, longifolium, vittatum, Polystachya concreta, Sarcoglottis biflora and another species, Sophronitis cernua, Stelis.

Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Oncidium spilopterum (photo:SA)
  The "Cerrado" is not homogeneous and has many faces with different floristic characteristics and is subdivided into another groups of vegetal formation.
  In order to know a little about this ecosystem, we transcribe what Guido Pabst told about this area which coincides with the so called Third Ecological Province of Orchids:
"...Usually they are regions situated in the interior of the continent, where the influence of the winds from the sea does not make itself felt. They are at altitude of 500 to 1.000m, slightly undulating or flat, with a few hills of medium height. The so called "mesetas", elevations isolated in the forest, flat as a table, are also a part of this province. The climate in this region is characterized by hot and dry days and cool nights. The oscillation in temperature from day to night and from summer to winter is by far the most accentuated of all the provinces. Falls of temperature in 12 hours from 35ºC to 0ºC are not uncommon. If we compare the differences of temperature in the other provinces, 15º in Amazon region, 20ºC in Serra do Mar and 15º in the cold zone, we can realize that the area is one of the great extremes. The orchids prefer the narrow stretches of woods and scrub bordering rivers and lake which often extend of hundreds kilometers. Those stretches act as orchid immigration routes "

HIGH MOUNTAIN GRASSLANDS ( Rupestrian mountain fields - Campos de altitude)
  Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Chapada de Diamantina (photo:FM)
The mountain ridge called "Serra do Espinhaço" which goes from the state of Minas Gerais (since Ouro Preto) until Bahia, including the "Chapada da Diamantina " (and Serra do Sincorá), shelters the so called "High moutain grasslands" or "Rupestrian mountain fields".
They are placed in altitude higher than 1.000 m. and located in mountains in Cerrado region. The vegetation is characteristic and formed by gramineae and small plants, mainly species of Ericaceae, Melastomatacea, Bromeliacea, Asteraceae, Myrtaceae, Poaceae, Velloziaceae, Fabacea families and has the species in common with the vegetation of the "cerrado" which occurs near them however in lower altitude.
  Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Serra do Sincorá (photo:FM)
"Those mountains are from the Precambrian age, it means, very old, from the beginning of the earth and have already been eroded. We can see in those fields, sand as the sand of the beach because the decomposition of the rock, the lixiviation wore away the other elements and only the quartz lasts.
(Carlos Eduardo de Britto Pereira, lecture about Brazilian habitats, Botanical Garden, in September 2002).
  Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Serra do Sincorá photo:FM)
Due to the fact that being sandy, rocky and not deep, the soil does not retain water even during the rainy period or the dew of the night, so it dries out quickly. It is the habitat of almost all rupicolous Laelias in Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Bahia. In those places, they grow on the naked rock or in the cracks where there is a mixture of sandy and organic material in decomposition. The variation of temperature is wide, the temperature can get 40ºC during the day and drops down during the night until 0°C.
Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Oncidium spilopterum in serra do Cipó (photo:FM)

Serra do Espinhçaco includes
Serras do Cipó,
Caraça (2.000m),
Ouro Branco,
Piedade (1.700m).

Foto/Photo: Francisco Miranda
Laelia crispa and Pleurothallis teres in Serra da Piedade (photo:FM)
  Francisco Miranda, in"Orchids' Map Over the Continent", discourses about 4 areas, three in the state of Minas Gerais and the last in the state of Bahia:
The first one, around Belo Horizonte; the second, Serra do Cipó; the third around Gouvea and Dimantina and the last in Chapada Diamantina.
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Laelia endesfeldzii (photo:SA)
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Laelia rupícola (photo:SA)
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Laelia fournieri (photo:SA)
  In this article, he reports the occurrence of the species bellow (among others):
Bifrenaria thyrianthina, Bulbophyllum warmingianum, weddellii, Cattleya bicolor, walkeriana, species of Cleistes, Comparettia coccinea, Constantia cipoensis, cristinae, Cyrtopodium aliciae, parviflorum, Elleanthus sp. Epistephium sclerophyllum, Epidendrum campestre, ellipticum, filicaule,saxatile, Encyclia duvenii, Grobya amherstiae, species of Habenaria, Laelia angereri, bradei, caulescens, crispata,endsfeldzii, esalqueana, fournieri, ghinllanyi, hispidula, itambana, jongheana, kettieana, liliputana, longipes, lundi, milleri, pumila, reginae, sanguiloba, sincorana, Malaxis sp, Masdevalia infracta, Maxillaria ochroleuca and anothers species, species of Octomeria, Oncidium blanchetti, gracile, hidrophyllum,,jonesianum, spilopterum, warmingii and species of the walueva and crispa sections, Prosthechea faresiana, vespa, Pleurothallis grobyi, prolifera, teres, species of Prescottia, Promenaea, Sacoila lanceolata, Scuticaria irwiniana, Sophronitis brevipedunculata, species of Stelis, Sophronitella violacea, Sophronitis cernua, species of Stenorrhynchus, Vanilla sp. Zygopetalum mackay, microphytum.
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Laelia ghillany (photo:SA)
Foto/Photo: Sergio Araujo
Laelia briegeri (photo:SA)

  If you want to get more information about the "Cerrado", go to Orchid News #7, an interview with Lou Menezes and Orchid New #9, an interview with Mrs. Maria Werneck, botanical illustrator.
About rupestrian fields where there is iron ore - cangas - see Orchid News # 13 and Orquidário magazine, Volume 15/2 - 2001 - articles by Kleber Lacerda.