Monday, January 5, 2015

Liparis saundersiana Rchb. f. a terrestrial orchid from Puerto Rico

In many years visiting the Maricao Forest I had never encountered this species.  Then in December of 2014, as I was looking at a plant of Epidendrum anceps, I noticed that there were several plants of this species a few feet away.  I could have easily missed the plants had I not looked at the right place, they are small and inconspicuous, a rosette of a few leaves flush with the leaf litter.    But once I had noticed the plants, I saw them at several places.  The plants must be deciduous since I have examined the places where they are growing many times and would have noticed them if they had been present.

For some reason all the plants I found were growing among fearsomely thorny plants and reaching them to take a photo was not that easy.  The largest group of plants was nested among a clump of Pitcairnia bromeliads.  A few plants here and there were under some thorny vines.  As I stepped in to take a photo a large thorn stabbed me on the foot through the shoe.  It was very painful.  The sacrifices one makes to get a photo!

All the plants I saw were producing seed pods and seemed in good health.  The plants are quite safe in their habitat as it is unlikely anyone will collect them and they live in a protected area.     Next year when I visit them I will wear thorn resistant clothes and footwear!

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