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The plant species at Siempre Verde are among the most diverse and rarest on the planet.

Specimens include orchids, bromeliads, and even a hemiparasite that grows underground and only emerges from its host when it blossoms. Because of the wonderful flora, many students leave Siempre Verde with a newfound interest in botany.

Orchids at Siempre Verde

When you think of an orchid, you may think of a high school prom corsage, but others (like me) think smaller. Ecuador now has over 4,000 species of orchids, and the greatest diversity of orchids in the world occurs in the Andes. In July 2010, orchid researcher and long-time friend Lorena Endara visited Siempre Verde and went hunting for miniature orchids, her speciality. The last time I saw Lorena was in 2004 at the Los Cedros reserve, which is also in the Intag river valley. She is currently doing her graduate work on a specific group of diminutive orchids, so I knew that getting her to visit Siempre Verde would be a great opportunity to identify many of these tiny orchids found at the reserve. I really enjoyed getting a chance to find these little gems. Keep an eye out for an orchid guide for Siempre Verde, coming soon. I’ve identified and photographed over 75 species of orchids from the reserve so far, and I’m finding new ones each visit.

Alex Reynolds, Director

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