Habitat of Cattleya walkeriana Gardn. and Cattleya x dolosa Rchb. f.
by Guilherme de Paula Salgado (1)

Cattleya walkeriana

This habitat is located in an ecological reserve, at medium altitude of 1200 meters, in the state of Minas Gerais. The climate is divided in two well defined seasons: one is very dry with cold nights and the other, is very rainy. Besides, the region, placed in a basin of a river, is in a zone of transition between the Atlantic Forest and the "Cerrado" (kind of Brazilian savannah). The last biome predominates in the areas where the C. walkeriana occurs. There are also big extensions of rocky outcrops where the vegetation is typical of rupestrian fields. The Cattleya walkeriana is, in general, found on the big outcrops, growing at full sun or just under the protections of few trees. They can also grow directly on the rock however the most common is find them over a layer of substrate, turning into big clumps. It is very rare to see them as epiphyte. Very well adapted to the drought period, they bear months without rain, having as unique source of humidity the mist of the winter nights.
The interesting is the fact that almost plants are turn to the north.
The blooming time, normally, occurs at the April's first fortnight when the most part of the plants bloom.
The number and the size of the flowers vary a lot according to the roughness of the area where the plants are located. Where the exposition to the sun lasts more with less humidity, the spikes used to have only a small flower.
Besides Cattleya walkeriana, Cattleya loddigesii and Cattleya x dolosa (a natural hybrid between the two species) can also been found.
C. loddigesii is rare in this specific habitat which can be explained by the lack of permanent source of humidity but in the close woods it occurs abundantly. I have just found one plant on a rock close to a source of water. I think it will incorrectly to generalize and say that plants of Cattleya loddigesii from this place are rupicolous because it is an abnormality. On the contrary, C. x dolosa forms big populations, vegetating under the some conditions as C. walkeriana, however they are separated.
The plants of Cattleya x dolosa found in the nature have a vegetative aspect quite different from those we normally see in cultivation. They are bigger and more vigorous. Their bloom season, as well as the one of C. loddigesii, lasts for many months, starting in March and finishing in July.
In spite of seeming to be abundant in this region, it doesn't occur, since the area is extremely restrict corresponding just a some hectares of the reserve. So, it is very important to prevent the progression of the degradation avoiding, in this way the disappearance of those so exuberant plants.
In the same hill, there are another species but they don't share the same environment. For example, Oncidium crispum and Epidendrum sp occur in close areas of C. walkeriana however they have much more humidity.
Oncidium crispum
Epidendrum sp
Cattleya walkeriana
Cattleya walkeriana
Cattleya walkeriana during the drought period
Cattleya loddigesii
Cattleya x dolosa
Cattleya x dolosa

Some species also vegetate on the rock, some other on the wood or in the field, but, in general, all of them are
neighboring. The habitats can be divided into:

Rupestrian field:

Bulbophyllum warmingianum
and plumosum, Epidendrum secundum, Pleurothallis johannensis.

Epidendrum secundum

Pleurothallis johannensis

Bulbophyllum warmingianum

Swamp field (hill top):
Phragmipedium vittatum
and Epidendrum dendrobioides.


Epidendrum dendrobioides

Clean field (Campo limpo):
Cyrtopodium triste

C. walkeriana
, C. dolosa, Brassavola tuberculata (or perrinii), Epidendrum (Lanium) avicula, Sacoila lanceolata (in the splits), Maxillaria sp., Cyrtopodium cardiochilum, E. secundum (on Vellozia), Pleurothallis johannensis.

Brassavola tuberculata

Brassavola tuberculata
Brassavola tuberculata
Epidendrum (Labium) avicula

Rocks (having water draining during the summer):
Bletia catenulata and Habenaria sp.

Bletia catenulata
Habenaria sp

Wood edge:
Campylocentrum sp, Polystachya sp. Isochilus linearis, Sophronitis cernua, Epidendrum (Lanium) avicula, C. walkeriana, B. tuberculata (or perrinii), Bulbophyllum plumosum, Oncidium varicosum var. rogersii

Wood Interior:
Oncidium varicosum
var rogersii, Oeceoclades maculata, Pleurothallis sp, Brassavola tuberculata (perrini).

Oncidium varicosum

Oncidium varicosum

Photos: Guilherme de Paula

(1) Guilherme de Paula Salgado is a 19 years old student on Environmental Engineering.
SInce long time ago, he has been visiting many habitats, mainly in the state of Minas Gerais.

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