Caatinga (photo CE)
  Placed between the Amazon Forest and Atlantic Forest, formed by part of the states of Alagoas, Bahia, Ceará, Maranhão, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Piauí, Rio Grande do Norte, Sergipe, northeast of Minas Gerais, there is a very dry region with a semi-arid climate where the course of waters just exist because of the rains. There are two hot seasons which are not very well defined: a dry one and a rainy one (winter). The vegetation occurring there is called "Caatinga" and covers at 10% of the Brazilian territory.
It is very a characteristic vegetation with scrub and herbaceous formation, small thorny leaves and irregular occupation, presenting areas similar to a wood and some other presenting almost naked ground.
But for the borders of the river , the caatinga strictly speaking is really very poor in orchids.
Catasetum barbatum (foto: SA)
The presence of Epidendrum ciliare (in the state Ceará), Catasetum purum, barbatum, Oeceoclades maculata (PE), Oncidium cebolleta, Brassavola sp. are confirmed in this ecosystem.
(Augusto Burle Gomes Ferreira - Orchid Survey of the Eastern Brazilian Northeast).
In this place, they grow very protect from the sun, in general

Oncidium cebolleta (foto: SA)

in the low branches of the shrubs. However, placed inside in this semi-arid region, there is an ecosystem that, in northeast, is called Swamps of altitude. In fact, this is a Montane Tropical Rainforest. In the area of the coastal plain (which move forward the interior for 40km), there is a plateau at about 400m altitude where are settled down ranges of mountains or isolate mountains which height varying from 800 to 1.000m altitude. During the day, the clouds raise and stay high over those mountains while the night, they lower, stop and completely surround the mountains. Therefore, the vegetation is moistened by the fog and when the day comes and the sun shines, as it is placed in semi-arid region, everything dries out, but not completely. A certain humidity remains. And the swamps of altitude are found in those mountains, true suspend oasis. In spite of the name adopted (swamp), the ground is not swampy although very wet.
This alternation of humidity and drought, so important to the orchids, makes this habitat very rich. The highest mountain of this region is Triunfo with more than 1.000m altitude.
"...The microclimate is very agreeable in contrast to hot and dry climate of all the inland northeast sea level regions (caatinga)... The annual average temperature is about 22º C (71,6ºF), but oscillating from 12º C (53,6ºF) to 22º (71,6ºF), during the rainy season (winter) and from 18ºC (64,4ºF) to 28º (82,4ºF) during the dry season (summer)"
(Lou C. Menezes, in "Cattleya labiata Lindley")

Cattleya labiata angerei (foto: SA)
Cattleya labiata just occurs in this ecosystem (since 400m altitude). Around 14 varieties of color of this species have been described: alba, alba-plena, coerulea, concolor, flamea, lilás, pérola, rosada, rubra, semialba, semi-concolor, suave, vinicolor and peloric, besides the distincion of the lip (ametistina, ardósia, coerulens, violeta, amoena, solferina) and pattern of the lip (anelato, atro, estriato, integro, marginato, oculato, orlato, punctacto, venoso, venoso estriado). Cattleya granulosa also occurs in the plain as well in the swamps of altitude.

Cattleya labiata suspensorio (foto:SA)
   Species of this ecosystem:
Aspasia variegata, Brassavola tuberculata, Bulbophyllum sanderianum, Camplocentrum selowii, Catasetum barbatum discolor hookeri,, macrocarpum, purum, uncatum, Cattleya granulosa, Cattleya elongata , Cattleya labiata, Cattleya x le czar, Cochleanthes flabeliformis, Coryanthes speciosa,
Cattleya labiata autumnalis (photo:SA)
Cyclopogon bicolor, congestus, Cyrtopodium polyphillum, aliciae, gigas, Dichaea cogniauxiana, Dimerandra emarginata, Dipteranthus duchii, Epidendrum armeniacum, avicula, cinnabarinum, fulgens, schomburgkii, denticulatum, nocturnum Encyclia acuta, euosma, longifolia,oncidioides osmantha, patens, Gomesa recurva, Gongora quinquenervis,Ionopsis utricularioides, Isochilus linearis, Liparis nervosa, Masdevallia infracta, Maxillaria amazonica, desvauxiana,
Cattleya elongata (photo:SA)
Miltonia flavescens, Miltonia spectabilis var. moreliana, Notylia barkeri, microchila, Octomeria oxichela, linearifolia,, Oeceoclades maculata, Oncidium cebolleta, raniferum, ciliatum, phymatochilum, gravesianum, Phragmipedium sargentianum, Phymatidium delicatum, Pleurothallis rudolfi, trifida, saudersiana, Prescottia stachyodes, plantaginea, Prostechea, alagoense, fragrans, pygmea, vespa,Rodriguezia bahiensis, bracteata,Sarcoglottis grandiflora, Sacoila lanceolata, Schomburgkia crispa, moyabambae, Sobralia liliastrum, Trichocentrum albo-coccineum, fuscum, Trigonidium acuminatum, Trichopilia santos-limae, Rodriguezia bracteata, Stanhopea lietze, Vanilla planifolia, Vanila trigonocarpa,Schombucattleya x pernambucensi, Xylobium colleyi, Warmingia eugenii, Zygostates kuhlmanni.

Cyrtopodium gigas (photo:SA)

Sacoila lanceolata (photo:SA)




The occurrence of orchids in coastal sandbanks (Restingas) has been the subject of an article Orchid News #14 and of an interview with Cláudio Nicoletti Braga in Orchid News #16.

"Manguezal" is a coastal swamp area placed at the mouth of the rivers and the sea (it is the transition between those two environments: terrestrial and marine). The vegetation is specialized, predominantly ligneous and arboreous adapted to the salinity of the waters (Classificação da Vegetação Brasileira adaptada do Sistema Universal, IBGE Foundation). It is a formation of muddy and stunt waters which are brackish due to the regular inundations of the high tides and almost dried in the low tide. This is a rich environment in organic material and devoid of oxygen.
Brazil is specially rich in "Manguezal" which can be found since the mouth of the Amazonas river until the state of Santa Catarina.

  Some epiphyte can also be found there:
Epidendrum anceps
(in Pernambuco) and Cattleya intermedia (in south coast of the state of São Paulo).
"...At the first sight, the ecosystem is an easy environment to germination and difficult for development... It presents rachitic plants that when transferred to a more appropriate area, grow into normal specimens." (G. J. Pabst e F. Dungs.Orchidaceae Brasilienses).

Cattleya intermedia. photo:SA)
  In the state of Rio de Janeiro, this is the habitat Oncidium flexuosum (abundant) and Cattleya harrisoniana.
More species: Catasetum macrocarpum, luridum, Cattleya forbesii, harrisoniana, x venosa, Elleanthus linifolius, Habenaria hexaptera, Phgramipedium sargentianum, Rodiguezia obtusifolia, Vanilla schwackeana, between others.
The "Brejos" are swamp lowland areas where there are the riverheads or fountainhead ("olhos d'água" it means eyes of water, where the water gushes out) or where the rivers are more or less permanent due to the annual flood (rainy season). They are spread all over the country.
In that ecosystem, mainly in the Central Plateau, occur (not necessary

Oncidium flexuosum (foto:SA)

associated) Bletia catenulata (which also occurs in the coastal sandbanks), many species of Cyrtopodium such as hatschbachii, paludicolum, parviflorum, Galeandra juncea, Eulophia, Sarcogltottis uiliginosa, Pteroglossa macrantha, Habenaria, Cleites, Epidendrum dendrobrioides and other species , Encyclia, Catasetum, Oncidium hydrophilum, Phragmipedium vitatum, between others.
In Savannah region, in the state of Minas, there are the semi-swamps "brejos" (such as in Serra do Cipó), where occur Zygopetalum mackay and Epidendrum sp between other species.




1) Astor Viana Júnior and Pedro Lage Viana, in Cattleya Walkeriana Gardn, Botanical aspects and Chromatic study

2) Augusto Burle Gomes Ferreira - Orchid Survey of the Eastern Brazilian Northeast - 2nd. National Meeting of Orchidists and Orchidologists - Exped - l990.

3) Augusto Ruschi, Orchids of the state of Espírito Santo, Exped, l986.

4) Carlos Eduardo de Britto Pereira, "A Contribuição dos Naturalistas Europeus na Descoberta e Classificação de Orquídeas no Brasil. Ênfase para o    Gênero Oncidium", Revista Orquidário vol 6/4

5) Classificação da Vegetação Brasileira adaptada do Sistema Universal" , editado pelo IBGE em l991, por Henrique Pimenta Veloso, Antonio Lourenço     Rosa Rangel Filho, Jorge Castro Alves.

6) David Miller & Richard Warren - Orquídeas do Alto da Serra, 1996

7) F. C. Hoehne, Album de Orchidaceas Brasileiras, Secretaria de Agricultura, Indústria e Comércio de São Paulo, l930.

8) F. C. Hoehne, Flora Brasílica, Vol XII, VII Secretaria da Agricultura de São Paulo. 1953

9) Francisco Miranda, Orchid's Map Over the Continent - Brazilian Orchids, Sodo Publishing

10) G. J. Pabst e F. Dungs.Orchidaceae Brasilienses,

11) João Batista F. da Silva e Manoela F. F. Silva, Orquídeas Nativas da Amazônia Brasileira, Gênero Catasetum L. C. Rich ex Kunth. , Coleçao      Adolpho Ducke, Museu Goeldi, l998.

12) João A N. Batista e all. "Sarcoglottis heringeri Pabst", Revista Orquidário volume 7/2

13) João Paulo de Souza Fontes - The Queen of Brazilian Northeast, Cattleya labiata Lindley, Edição Europa.

14) Jim & Barbara McQueen - Orchids of Brazil, The World of Orchids, 2, The Text Publishing Company, Melbourne, Australia, 1993

15) Kleber Lacerda, in Amazon Discovery of New Species and Extinction - Cattleya, The Queen of Flowers, Brazilian Orchids, Sodo Publishing

16) Lou Menezes, Orquídeas, Genus Cyrtopodium, Espécies Brasileiras,

17) Lou C. Menezes, in Cattleya labiata Lindley, Brazilian Orchids, Editora Expressão e Cultura.

18) Lou C. Menezes, Schombocattleya x pernambucensis, in Boletim Caob vol III nº 4

19) Manuais Técnicos em Geociências, número 1, Manual Técnico da Vegetação Brasileira, IBGE, l992

20) Revista Brasil Orquídea, Ano ½ - Ago/set/out, editora Brasil Orquídeas.

21) Pedro Ivo Soares Braga, Grassilands orchids of the Brazilian Amazon region. 1st. National Meeting of Orchidists and Orchidooogists tExped - l990.

Sites researched :

1) Instituto de Pesquisas Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro - Projeto Manguezal. Os Manguezais e sua importância

2) Fundação SOS Mata Atlântica

3) Brazilian Ambasse in London..

4) Manguezal - Ecologia - -

5) Brazil Nature

  Photographies by :
CE = Carlos Eduardo de Brito Pereira
FM = Francisco Miranda
SA = Sergio Araujo

We would like to thank Carlos Eduardo and, specially, Francisco Miranda for the authorization to use their photos in this article.

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