Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Tolumnia variegata (Sw.) Braem 1986, with flowers that appear to lack anthocyanin, these flowers are unlike any I have ever seen in the wild.

Photograph with flash

Photograph with natural light

Tolumnia variegata is one of the most common orchids in Puerto Rico.  It is often found in association with coffee plants, so its common name is "little angel of the coffee plantation".  Over the years I have seen, hundreds, maybe thousands of flowers of this species, in inflorescences of plants growing in the forest in Rio Abajo and in other types of habitats, from dry coastal scrub to moist karst forest.   The flowers usually have the same colors although they vary in size and number of flowers in the inflorescence.   A friend showed me this plant.  The flowers seem to lack anthocyanin, the pigment that produces purple and red color in the flowers.  My friend, who has seen even more Tolumnia flowers than me agrees that this plant is unique.  Sadly because it has been raining copiously in the last two weeks, only one of the flowers was in good condition.  The others were spotted or had sooty mold over them.  I am not sure what is the way to describe this variant of the species.  But it reminds me of an alba type flower.  There will be an effort to self the flowers so that seed might be collected.  Hopefully it will be successful so that the genetics of this variant might be preserved.

Typical Tolumnia variegata from the locality this plant was seen


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Miguel Valentin said...

Gracias por compartir esta variente de Tolumnia variegata en su forma "alba". Ciertamente es un ejemplar extremadamente raro. En mis visitas al Bosque de Guajataca nunca e visto mayor diferencia en color. Pero luego del huracan Maria en Guajataca las tolumnias no son nada frecuenes. No obstante poblaciones de otras especies de orquideas parecen haberse recuperado con mayor facilidad. Felicitaciones por el gran contenido de nuestra flora en tu blog.