Thursday, November 21, 2013
Lepanthes rupestris, Stimson 1970, "in situ" growing on very slippery boulders by a mountain stream
These tiny orchids grow on boulders on the side of mountain streams in the high reaches of Sierra de Luquillo. The plants are small and easily missed. The flowers are so small most people are oblivious to their presence. The boulders where these orchids grow are hideously slippery, moving among them demands supreme care and a constante state of alertness. Any slip can result in a painful fall at best and broken bones at worst. Given that these orchids are inconspicuous and in a habitat inimical to human presence, the result is that they are fairly common even in places that humans frequent.
Taking good macro photos of them is not easy since there is no flat surface anywhere to put a tripod. Also you have to be careful to keep a good balance among the boulders at the same time that you are taking the photos, something that is not easy if you are handling a 100 mm lens, trying to figure out what is the best exposure and hanging for dear life from the rocks themselves to avoid falling.
On top of all that you need to be alert for flash floods caused by rain far away upstream. These have killed many a distracted bather in these mountain streams. Happily the day I visited this particular stream, the place was not as soping wet as usual and I could move among the boulders with relative safety.