genus Lepanthes and another orchids from Guatemala
Behar, Guatemalan, is physician-pediatrics expert in bad-nutrition
and public healthy.
Passionate orchidist but having small place for his orchids, he
became specialized in micro-orchids and macro-photography.
He is author of the book "Guatemala and its Orchids",
Could you give us an idea about your country, climate, geographical
MB: Guatemala is a small country (108, 889 km2).
Located in Central America, south of Mexico, and with coasts in both,
the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. Very mountainous and with many
volcanoes, with altitudes up to 4,000 meters. Above see level. Because
its geographical location in the subtropical zone and its topography
it has a great diversity of climates and ecosystems. Very warm in the
low lands and cold, sometimes with temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius
in the high mountains. The majority of the area of the country is still
covered with forests and of great biodiversity, particularly in the
cloud and rain forests in the north. Recently is suffering of deforestation
because the rapid population increase.
ON: How many species of orchids grow in Guatemala?
MB:About 800 species of orchids have been described
in the country, many of great beauty (photos bellow) and some are endemic.
ON: In what kind of habitat, they grow?
MB: The majority of species are found in the cloud
forests of intermediate altitude, but they can be found even in a small
semidesertic area, epiphytic in cactuses and spine bushes.
ON: In what genus are you most interested?
MB: I am interested in the orchid miniatures,
abundant but very little known and appreciated because its small size.
They are however of incredible diversity an beauty when magnified. I
have study in particular the Genus Lepanthes. Of the Sub-tribe
ON: Concerning this genus object of your lecture in Dijon, how many
species does it have?
MB: Lepanthes is a large genus with about
ON: Which is the geographical distribution of this genus?
MB: Lepanthes are found in tropical America,
from the South of Mexico to the North of Brazil and Peru. Including
the Caribean Isles.
ON: How many species occur in Guatemala?
MB: In Guatemala there are about 40 species.
ON: Which are the characteristics of the habitat?
MB: They grow in humid forests, in trunks or branches
of trees with moses and other Pleurothallidinae. The majority
of species ere between 1,500 and 2,500 m. of altitude, but some can
be found at see level and above 3,000 m.
ON: Which is the peculiar characteristics of the genus?
MB: The plants are small, epiphytic, without pseudobulbs.
With one leaf in each ramicaul. They are distinguished by the presence
of characteristic sheaths (lepantiform sheaths) on the stems. And the
“fish-bone” appearance of the old inflorescences. The more
significant difference is however the structure of the flowers. They
are small, with a great diversity in form and colors. Very attractive.
The petals are wider than longer, bilobed. The labelum, difficult to
recognize, it is trilobed. The two lateral lobes surround the column,
and appear in a front view as “blades” on the sides of the
column. The third, median, lobe, situated under the base of the column,
is very small, almost microscopic, sculptured, and is adhered“apendix”.
Apparently is an attraction to the pollinators.
ON: What could you tell us in order to help the cultivation at home?
MB: To cultivate Lepanthes they have to be kept,
attached to slabs of tree fern or sawn in pots with a loose medium,
in a very humid environment, above 80%, but with ventilation and enough
ON: Thank you very much, Dr. Moises Behar.
by Moises Behar
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