The Brazilian map of orchids by state is the result of a nine-years research, in the Brazilian and foreign literature and is available at the site Brazilian Orchids (
That map is often up-dated, however, obviously, no matter how hard we work, we never get to keep it up-dated due to high number of dispersed publications, making them impossible to be followed.

The research wasn't limited to the occurrences in the states. The work in its complete version will be soon disposable under the form of a book or a CD and will include, besides the new species and occurrences, the nomenclatural changes (synonymies, transference or creation of genera and species) and justification of every information given with bibliographical citation even though it was adopted or not.

The southeast region, the most rich concerning the variety of species and also in number of individuals, has always been the most privileged (and still is) by the studies and researches, as a result, the survey is the most complete. However, the Amazonian region has been surprising due to the researches and the most recent journeys started in the 80th decades (with Pedro Ivo Soares Braga, Francisco Miranda and Kleber Lacerda) with a great push in the 90th and continued by João Batista Fernandes da Silva's journeys and Manoela F. F. da Silva's researches (Goeldi Museum - Pará). The Central Plateau has been also studied mainly by Lou Menezes, João Aguiar Nogueira Batista, Luciano de B. Bianchetti. Some researchers greatly contribute with the increasing of information about occurrence, even though they don't work with a exclusive region, such Vitorino Paiva Castro Neto, Marco Antonio Campacci, Fábio de Barros.
Some researchers limit their studies to certain habitats adding many data such as those accomplished by Cláudio Nicoletti de Fraga (restingas - sandbanks of Espírito Santo), Maria da Penha Fagnani (restinga - sandbanks of Massabamba and Guapimirim river), Dorothy Araujo (restingas), between many other. Some other remain without publication, we can mention David Miller's studies about the orchids of Serra dos Órgãos.
Many theses for university degree are presented enlarging the knowledge about Orchidaceae however, unfortunately, they only get a very restrict group of people. Some regions haven't been properly studied yet and, regrettably, there are not many specific publications concerning the occurrence of the species after the division of two states and the creation of another two: Mato Grosso/ Mato Grosso do Sul and Goiás/Tocantins. Thus, keeping those the information up-dated is hard since the most part of the literature has been published before the division.

Finally, we realized that the number of species occurring in Brazil has raised, not only because of the new species but also due to new registers of occurrence in our territory. The diversification of the genera and species occurring in Brazil is really great (which is not definitively a news) and is due, mainly, to the diversity of the topographies and latitude, originating so different climatic conditions.

Distribution of the species

Basically, the species are distributed through two tropical forests and two well defined regions such as cerrado (savannah) and the "caatinga"(1):

The Amazon Forest, situated at the basin with the same name, covers, in Brazil, the states of Amazonas, Pará, Amapá, Acre, part of Rondônia, Roraima, Maranhão and Mato Grosso. Although the temperature is quite high (38º) during the day, contrary to our believes, the temperature drops, at night, down to 10ºC. The mountainous regions most recently researched have been showing an high number of species ( Roraima, Paracarima, Parima, Pico da Neblina). The diversity of the existent habitats inside it makes appear genera and species of unequal cultural needs regarding to the luminosity, environmental humidity and temperature.
The Atlantic Forest covers (or covered) the seaside strip along the states of Rio Grande do Sul until Maranhão including the southeast of Minas Gerais, with their mountains with different altitudes and names depending on the region. The most part of the species in our territory and the most known genera and species occur inside there. In the mountainous regions, the climate is more defined, the summer is warmer and rainy and the winter is dry and cool or cold. It is called the first province of orchids and shelters, more or less 60% of the genera ands species species existent (Pabst, l975). The mist is frequently.
At the lowlands, depending on the latitude, the summer is rainy but the winter is not so cool neither so dry. Going into the south, the summer is more pleasant and the winter is more cold. However, also there, the existence of different kinds of habitats (microclimates included) propitiating their richness.
It is the second province of orchids characterized by a tropical warm (even hot) climate, plentiful of atmospheric humidity and occupies a grande part of the Brazilian territory (Pabst, 1975).

The vegetation of restinga is quite rich in Orchidaceae, specially if considered the rigorous climatic conditions (Francisco Miranda, l995), with the presence of Cyrtopodium, Epidendrum, Cattleya, Eltroplectris, Oncidium, Brassavola, Bletia, Encyclia, Vanilla, Catasetum, etc.

The region of cerrado (Savannah - Central Plateau) cover the areas of the "chapadas" (plateaus) which reach 1.000m altitude, in the states of Goiás, part of Maranhão, Piauí, west of Minas Gerais, part of Mato Grosso and Bahia. In those areas, the rains drop from October to April following by a strongly dry period where the temperature really drops at night. Even during the summer, the nights are fresh. The species of Cyrtopodium and Habenaria are spread over that habitat. That is the third province situated in the interior of the continent, in altitude from 600 to 1000m and the "tables" (plateaus), a few mountains of mid high height, few trees and palms (Pabst, l975). However, in some places, there is a long period of drought such as in Chapada de Diamantina - Bahia, home the Cattleya tenuis and elongata, where stayed, once, 7 years without rains (Marcos Antonio Campacci).

Occupying the north of Bahia, Piauí, the most part of Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas e Sergipe there is the "Caatinga". The drought of northeast is widely known but, in spite of the aridity of the region, some species of orchids are found, included the Cattleya labiata. However inside this area, there a tropical rain forest close to the coast (Lou Menezes, 2002), with altitudes reaching from 500 to 1.000m. It is one of the Cattleya labiata's habitat.


In this survey, some data have been confirmed:

- The species in Brazil are distributed, mainly, through the southeast region (Atlantic Forest).

- The states of Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo and Rio de Janeiro have at about 1/3 of the species occurring in Brazil.

In the other hand, it clearly appears that the Amazonian region have much more species than we used to believe.

One of the most curious registers is the occurrence of a rainy Amazonian area in the boundary of the states of Espírito Santo and Bahia called Hiléia Bahiana: "This is Rizzini's Tableland Forest, similar to the Amazonian Dryland forest differentiated for being located to the south of Bahia and at the northern extreme of Espírito Santo, where the pluvial indexes are high. This kind of forest contains many Amazonian species, some of them standing out for their large size, with a crown more than 40 meters high and with occurrence of orchids species sympathetic with those from Amazonas region such as Brassia, Cycnoches, Coryanthes, Maxillaria, Stellis, Chaubardia". (Augusto Ruschi, 1986).

Acacallis Lindl.
A genus of great beauty with a color not too usual in Orchidaceae family, it occurs in the Amazonian or at the boundaries regions (States of Acre, Amazonas, Mato Grosso, Pará, Roraima and Rondônia). Acacallis cyanea grows at the water level and very often the plants stay submerse for several months (Francisco Miranda- l996). In journey, in l909-1910, plants with 5m-stems have been found (Hoehne, 1930).
(AC, AM, MT, PA, RO, RR) (2)

Aspasia Lindl.
Aspasia variegata Lindl. is the species with the greater dispersion mainly in the states of Amazonian region (States of AL, AM, AP, DF, ES, GO, MA, MT, PA, RJ, RO, RR, TO).

Aspasia silvana F. Barros
The most recent species of the genus, described in l998.
(BA, ES, RJ)

Batemania Rchb. f.
All species occur in the Amazonian region.

Beadlea Small
Terrestrial genus with at about 20 species concentrated in the south and southeast regions with shy incursions through Bahia and Pernambuco.

Bifrenaria Lindl.

A genus with epiphyte and/or rupicolous species, almost of them concentrated in the south and southeast region, besides Bahia, except for Bifrenaria longicornis and Bifrenaria venezuelana in the Amazonian region.

Bifrenaria aureo-fulva(Hook) Lindl.
Found in Atlantic Forest, plant epiphyte and, eventually, rupicolous (Coletânea de Orquídeas Brasileiras 2, Bifrenaria, Editora Brasil Orquídeas).
(BA, ES, MG, PR, RJ, RS, SC, SP)  

Bletia Ruiz & Pavón

Bletia catenulata Ruiz & Pavón has a distribution larger than was once believed and is dispersed into Goiás, Maranhão, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Tocantins. It occurs in steeps banks associated to Phragmipedium vittatum in medium altitude and also occurs the sea level, in restinga (sandbank).

Catasetum L. C. Rich. ex. Kunth
The occurrence is concentrated in the central region of the country moving to Amazonian region and is perfectly adapted to the environment (Francisco Miranda, l995). May be it is the genus of biggest flowers which had more new species described since de 80th decade (more than 30).

Ctsm sanguineum Lindl. & Paxton
A curious information is given by Francisco Miranda (Orchids from Brazilian Amazon - l996):
" ... Male and female flowers generally appear in separate inflorescences but in Catasetum it is relatively common for them to appear on the same inflorescence, and even together with hermaphrodite flowers. In such cases, the rule- which permits exceptions - is that the female flowers appear towards the bottom of the inflorescence, the hermaphrodite towards the center and the male flowers at the top."

Ctsm schmidtianum Miranda & Lacerda

Cattleya Lindl.

From at about 50 (*) species vegetating from the Mexico until Argentina, 32 occurring in Brazil, without included the great number of varieties inside the same species or hybrids between the species and another genera. They appear since the extreme north (Pacaraima and Parima mountains, in Roraima, in the boundary of Brazil and Venezuela and Guyana since Rio Grande do Sul.

Occurrence of the species:

The Atlantic Forest is the habitat which concentrates more species. The states of southeastern and Bahia (northeastern) is the most rich state with 14 species, followed by Espírito Santo with 13, Minas Gerais with 11, Rio de Janeiro with 10, São Paulo with 9. In the southeast region, they are concentrated in the east and move forward the west.

Cattleya acklandiae Lindl
(BA, ES)


The Brazilian Amazonian region is the home of 7 species: Cattleya araguaiensis (**), eldorado, jenmanii, luteola, lawrenceana, mottae and violacea, besides 2 hybrids: C. x brymeriana (C. violacea x C. eldorado) and Brassocattleya x rubyi (Brassavola martiana x Cattleya eldorado, in the state of Amazonas). Perhaps another hybrid will be confirmed for the region, after finishing analyses based on DNA.


Cattleya luteola Lindl.
Dryland Forest of Amazon - dense rain forest.
(AC, AM, PA, RO)

Cattleya violacea (H.B.K.) Rolfe
It grows in high humid environments and does not tolerate low temperatures (Kleber Lacerda, 1995).)
(AM, MS, MT, PA, RO, RR)

Due to the capacity of hybridizing, only in the nature, the Cattleya species are intercrossed for more than 38 times, and, with another genera, 31 times. It means, there is more natural hybrids than species.
With the genus Laelia - 21 times;
With Brassavola - 7 times;
With Schomburgkia - 3 times.

(*) Recently the species of Mexico and some from Central America have been transferred to the genus Guarianthe.

(**) Recently transferred to the genus Cattleyella.

Caularthron Raf.
A genus with 3 species with an exclusive distribution in the Amazonian region.

Caularthron bicornutum (Hook) Raf.
It has a great area de dispersion in the Amazon region, occurring in the Central Amazon Campinas (Woodland) and igapós (Flood forests) in open and enlightened places until Venezuela (Francisco Miranda, l996)
(AM, PA, RO, RR)

Cirrhaea Lindl.
A genus of a few species occurring in the south and southeastern with an only exception to the state of Bahia (Cirrhaea silvana)

Cirrhaea saccata Lindl.
(PR, RS, RJ, SC, SP)

Coryanthes Hook.

This genus is concentrated in the Amazonian region but it also appears in the region called "Hiléia bahiana" (Bahia and Espírito Santo- Coryanthes speciosa).
It has at about 10 news species and new registers of occurrence to Brazil, always in the Amazonian region.

Cyrtopodium Robert Brown
The Central Plateau is the geographical center of distribution of the genus and Brazil is the most rich country with almost 35 species, some of them, recently described. Cyrtopodium cristatum Lindl is the species most spread considering the number of states it is distributed (it grows in, at least, 14 states) followed by Cyrtopodium eugenii Rchb. f e Cyrtopodium polyphyllum (Vell.) Pabst ex F. Barros (most known as Cyrtopodium paranaense) in 13 states.

Until today, the occurrence of the species former locally known as Cyrtopodium andersonii is not clarified as well as if Cyrtopodium glutiniferum Raddi and Cyrtopodium cardiochilum Lindl. are synonyms or two valid species.

Cyrtopodium intermedium Brade
Rare plant, considered as an hybrid of Cyrtopodium gigas (Vell.) Hoehne and Cyrtopodium palmifrons Rchb. f. occurring in a small region of the state of Minas Gerais.

Dimerandra Schltr.

Dimerandra emarginata (Meyer) Hoehne
Dimerandra emarginata has a curious occurrence, it is present in the north, northeast region and in "Hiléia Bahiana" (south of Bahia and north of Espírito Santo).
(AL, AP, AM, BA, CE, ES, MA, PA, PE, SE)

Eltroplectris Rafinesque
Terrestrial genera with 11 species.

Eltroplectris triloba (Lindl) Pabst
It occurs in sandbanks areas (restinga.)
(ES, RJ, RS, SP).

Encyclia Hook.
It has almost 50 species and/or natural hybrids.

Encyclia oncidioides
There is register of occurrence in every state, from the north to the south, from east to west (Mato Grosso), in tropical humid forest and also in Atlantic Forest (Coletânea de Orquídeas Brasileiras 1, Encyclia, CAOB)
(AL, AM, BA, AP, CE, DF, ES, MG, MT, PB, PA, PE, PR, RJ, RN, RS, SC, SP, SE)

Epidendrum L.
At about 40 species grow in Brazil, as epiphyte, rupicolous or terrestrial, occurring in every region of the country.

Epidendrum anceps Jacq., Epidendrum rigidum Jacq. and Epidendrum difforme Jacq.
appear in 17 states in different regions.

Epidendrum densiflorum Hook.
It grows in, at least, 15 states from the
Amazonas until Rio Grande do Sul.
(AL, AM, BA, DF, ES, GO, MG, MT, PE, PA, PR, RJ, RS, SC, SP)

Epidendrum nocturnum Jacq.

is present in 19 states, since the extreme north until Rio Grande do Sul.
In the Amazonian region is quite common in the Campinas and gallery and flood forests. It is also quite common outside the Amazon (Francisco Miranda, l996).

(1) Caatinga: stunted rather sparse forest that is leafless in the dry season and is widespread in areas of small rainfall in northeastern of Brazil (Webster's Third New International Dictionary)
(2) See the legends in part II.
Photos: Sergio Araujo - ©Sergio Araujo-2005

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