Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids: Cloud Forest Orchids of Central & South America
Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids are part of the pleurothallidinae family primarily from the Andean cloud forests of south America.
Dracula is a genus of 135 species, located from Mexico to Peru. In 1978, Luer established the genus Dracula; before then, they were within the genus Masdevallia. Most of the Dracula species are from Columbia and Ecuador inhabiting wet mossy rainforests. Some species are endemic to a single valley or mountain, and because of this are considered endangered in the wild. Researchers even think that a couple of species could now be extinct in the wild. Seventy-nine Dracula species occur at elevations of between 900 to 2,000m.
Masdevallia is a Genre that also grows in the cloud forest, and is closely related to Dracula,we can find this species from 800m up to 3200m.
Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids are cool growing orchids which prefer temperatures of min 7C at night and 20C in the day. Higher daytime temperatures are ok temporarily but the temperature minimum should be a baseline.
Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids appreciate a relatively high humidity of above 70%. I have set mine at 75%. This drops during the day but rises at night. Their light range should be around 1000 to 1500 foot candles (shaded good light). Use shade netting to reduce direct sunlight and increase shade. They naturally have the canopy of the cloud forest so keep this in mind.
Keep Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids in spagnum moss media moist, well watered and never allow to dry out. Try to avoid soggy media if possible especially in winter temperatures. Use rain water if at all possible. Fill a watering can the day before and bring to the same temperature as the orchid house before spraying.
Dracula Orchids should be hung as the flowers grow down through the media and hang down. Masdevallia is ok on a shelf. With both species I would encourage using meshed pots for airation and to mirror the epiphytic nature of the plant naturally growing in high up in tree branch moss, in the cloud forests of the Andes.
ORCHIDS OF THE CLOUD FORESTS OF SW COLOMBIA AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CONSERVATION - Jorge E. Orejuela-Gartner, european Journal of environmental sciences
Between colombia and ecuador, the two richest countries in the world in orchids, 9000 species are found or thirty percent of all known species. However, in both countries the number of orchid species threatened with extinction may well add up 3000 species, a figure quite worrying when you consider that the main cause of this extinction is the deforestation of andean forests. these forests provide most of the water resources for the large cities, agriculture lands and industries of these nations. one could say that where there are still forests rich in orchid populations there will also be healthy human populations. the la Planada, Farallones de cali and la Mesenia natural areas in the Guiza, cali-Jamundí and san Juan river basins respectively represent examples where the richness and endemism of their more than 400 species registered thus far coincide with the importance of the ecosystem services provided to the cities of ricaurte and tumaco in the department of nariño, cali-Jamundí in cauca valley and Jardín/andes in antioquia, where some critical areas of cloud forests have been identified for conservation. images are presented of endemic, threatened and newly described orchid species of colombia’s Western andes.
Undoubtedly, the greatest threat to Colombia's orchids lies in the destruction of their habitat within the cloud forest. it is estimated that only about 18% to 25% of original Andean forest remains in the country today (etter and Wyngaarden 1998). in general, mountain forests in Colombia have become seriously threatened environments, since most have already been cut down, and those remaining exist only as various different-sized fragments at differing degrees of isolation (kattán and álvarez 1996). Despite the enormous changes to Colombia's natural ecosystems, there is as yet no reliable data on the annual rate of deforestation, either in the nation’s various macro-regions, or overall. past estimates for the magnitude of timber extraction and forest conversion to crops and cattle ranching, range between 200,000 and 500,000 hectares annually (Fao 1999; instituto von humboldt 1999). Fandiño-lozano and Wyngaarden (2005) indicate that up to 56.6% of the national territory has been substantially transformed and that in the face of such high levels of disturbance, the present system of conservation is insufficient.
ORCHIDS OF THE CLOUD FORESTS OF SW COLOMBIA AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR THEIR CONSERVATION
Jorge E. Orejuela-Gartner, european Journal of environmental sciences
At Exotic Earth Plants we are growing an ex-situ collection of Andean cloud forest Pleurothallid orchids, which is intially including Masdevallia and Dracula Orchids, to protect them from becoming extinct in the wild. Other threatened cloud forest orchids include but not limited to Dryadella, Dichaea, Lepanthes, Porroglossum, Oncidium, Echinorhynch, Scaphosepalum, Pleurothallis. We may also look at these in the future.
Below are some photos of our cool Pleurothallid orchid house. This is ventilated with a duct fan, insulated with large bubble wrap, heated with an oil radiator and humidified to around 80%.