New orchid discovered in Ecuador with help from commercial nursery

A stunning new species of orchid has been discovered in the cloud rainforest of northern Ecuador. Scientific name Maxillaria anacatalina-portillaethe plant – unique with its intense and showy yellow flowers – was described by Polish orchidologists in collaboration with an Ecuadorian company active in the research, cultivation and supply of orchids.

Known from a restricted area in the province of Carchi, the orchid is presumed to be a critically endangered species, as its rare populations are already suffering the adverse effects of climate change and human activity. The discovery was aided by a local commercial nursery, which was already growing these orchids. The study is published in the open access journal PhytoKeys.

In recent years, scientists from the University of Gda?sk (Poland) have worked intensively on the classification and delimitation of species within the genus Neotropical Maxillaryone of the largest in the orchid family. They studied materials deposited in most of the world’s herbarium collections across Europe and the Americas, and made several field trips to South America in search of amazing plants.

The first specimens of what would become the new science Maxillaria anacatalina-portillae were collected by Alex Portilla, photographer and sales manager at Ecuagenera, an Ecuadorian company dedicated to the research, cultivation and supply of orchids, on November 11, 2003 in Maldonado, Carchi province (northern Ecuador ). There he photographed the orchid in its natural habitat and then brought it to his company’s greenhouses for cultivation. Later, its offspring were offered on the commercial market as a different species of the same genus: Maxillaria sanderiana “xanthina” (xanthina in Latin means yellow or red-yellow).

In the meantime, Professor Dariusz L. Szlachetko and Dr. Monika M. Lipišska would encounter the same intriguing plants with uniquely colored flowers repeatedly. Suspecting that they might be dealing with an undescribed taxon, they joined efforts with Dr. Natalia Ol?drzy?ska and Aidar A. Summbembayev, to perform additional morphological and phylogenetic analyses, using samples from commercial growers and enthusiasts, as well as crucial plants. purchased from Ecuagenera which were then grown in the greenhouses of the University of Gda?sk.

As their study confirmed that the orchid was indeed a previously unknown species, the scientists honored the original discoverer of the amazing plant by naming it after his daughter: Ana Catalina Portilla Schröder.

– This press release was originally published on the Pensoft Publishers website

Dora W. Clawson