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| The Orchids of Peru |


Orquidaceae is probably the largest family of plants with flower. Estimations suggest an existence of 30,000 species, adapted to the most diverse habitats, from Lithophytes, (orchids growing on rocks); or species as strange as Rhizantella gardneri, a subterranean orchid from Australia, that only sees the sun when it flowers; to Platystele stenostachya, an orchid with a flower so small it measures only 1 millimeter. Orchids can be found also as big plants with stalks of 3 to 4 meters producing dozens of flowers per plant like the Peruvian species Sobralia dichotoma naturally growing at Machu Picchu… Orchids have conquered almost every habitat on earth being absent only in Antarctica, the North Pole and in the most arid deserts. Orchids can be found in the wet forests of South America, in the Himalayas, in the tundra, the Andes, the everglades of Florida, etc… Appreciated the world over for their stylized forms and captivating aromas, the colorful and blinding flowers of countless species of orchids decorate and adorn different landscapes in the Andes, drawing the attention of researchers and travelers alike, who always stop to admire them.
It is estimated that Peru has around 3000 species, as diverse as Chlorea Pavoni growing in the Andean valleys up to 3100 meters high to the spectacular and worldly known Cattleya rex, native of Moyobamba in the eastern slopes of the Andes. These beautiful highly sought after flowers can be found in all three regions of Peru: from the coast of the Pacific, to the Andean highlands and of course in the jungle areas. They grow at altitudes from 100 meters above sea level up to 4,800. No other species have achieved such a high grade of diversity and complexity in each of their species. The so-called "Land of the Orchids" is found in the Peruvian department of San Martin, where such orchids such as Anguloa, Cattleya, Catasetum, Bollea, Brassia, Coryanthes, and Lycaste are to be found in abundance. In Cuzco, in time of the Incas there was a love story based in a beautiful orchid of red flowers (Masdevallia veitchiana). This flower, according to many specialists, is one of the most beautiful orchids in the world and has been honored with a FCC (First Class Certificate) the most important award of the American Orchid Society.

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