Bletia purpurea, one of the terrestrial orchids found at the UFM.

Although they are less showy than their epiphyte sisters, the terrestrial orchids call the attention due to their gentleness and primitiveness.  In the UFM’s Arboretum ther are several species of these plants, such as the  Bletia purpurea, the  Sarcoglottis  cerina and the Aulosepalum pyramidale.

“Orchids are one of the most diverse families of plants in the world. Guatemala has more than 770 different species of orchids; many of them are extremely rare.  Although they are all over the country, there is a greater number and diversity in the forests that are 800 to 1600 meters above sea level. This includes the remaining forests that surround the city of Guatemala where many rare species of orchids are still found”, explained Analú Mac Vean.  

“The flowers of this family of plants have their sexual organs and their polen in a column, unlike other plants that have them in stamens and pistils.  The orchids use their beautiful petals and labellum to attract their naive pollinators. It is believed that some species of orchids only can be pollinated by only a specific insect. In order to get pollinated, the flowers must announce their wealth through a great diversity of forms and colors”, she added.

“Most of the orchids are epiphytes, that is, they live mainly on trees.  Nevertheless there are also species of primitive orchids that grow in the ground.  In Guatemala we have around 100 species of terrestrial orchids, most of them with small flowers that are not very colorful”, she indicated.   

“In the UFM’s Arboretum, during January, February and March a diversity of blossoming orchids can be seen.  The showiest belong to the families Cattleya, Oncidium, and Laelia. Nevertheless, when exploring the forests that surround the campus you can observe several terrestrial orchids with panicles of delicate flowers between Holm oaks in the forest.  The species Bletia purpurea,  Sarcoglottis  cerina and  Aulosepalum pyramidale’ are some examples of these beautiful and delicate plants”, concluded Mac Vean. 

One of the objectives of the Arboretum is to protect the forests of pine and Holm oaks that comprise the UFM campus.  This way these beautiful and unique species of plants will not disappear from our planet.

More photos,
here.