By orchidsusa at 2007-01-31 20:25
GUATEMALA, AUGUST 10-17, 2002
FELLOW PLANT ADVENTURERS WANTED!!!
even travelers plus three Guatemalan plant experts who included Jeronimo Lancerio – Bromeliads, Romeo Soto – Movie producer and environmentalist and Jorge Pontaz – Landscape architect, agronomist and greenhouse owner. Plus the lucky seven – Anne and David Joffe of Sanibel Island, Florida, owners of She Sells Sea Shells, a world renowned seashell business. Professor Barry Wilson, PhD. – Orchid Hobbyist, Matt Richards – Horticulturist and Orchid propagator, Steve Beam – a director of the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens and landscape architect, Scott Joffe – Orchid Grower and co-organizer of the trip, and myself, Steve Guiness – Plant collector, grower, floriculturist and co-organizer of the trip..
Our mission and objective was to explore and rescue fallen and distressed plants and remove plants that are in areas about to be cleared for farming and other projects. With permits and permission from the government of Guatemala and all legal and required paperwork for export, we set out.
Most of the group arrived Saturday August 10th except for Matt. After flying from Ohio to Los Angeles without stopping in Dallas due to inclement weather, he arrived in Guatemala City Sunday morning August 11th. This gave him one hour to shower and leave with the rest of us. We were finally ready to head off on our adventure!
Sunday August 11
Off on our plant adventure! We headed East towards Teculatan in the Motagua valley in the shadow of the Sierra de Las Minas mountains to the farm of a friend where we were allowed to search his property for plants. We had a delicious wood fire grilled barbecue chicken lunch with all the fixings. On the farm the vegetation is dry-subtropical and thorny with temperature in the range of 24-26 degrees Celsius (76-78 Fahrenheit). Orchid species in the area were Oncidiums and Encyclias. We also found a huge Cyrtopdium Punctatum growing on a rock in shallow soil as a Lithophyte. The common name of this orchid is Cow's Horn because of the large horn like pseudobulbs.
Monday August 12
On the drive to Cerro San Gil near the town of Dona Maria, there was a fallen tree. We received permission from the land owner to remove plants from. This area is lower and more humid than the previous day. We saved many plants from the fallen tree including Brassavola Nodosa (Lady of the Night), Encyclia Adenocarpum, Encyclia Nematocaulum and Schomburgkias.
Next we proceeded to Cerro San Gil. On the drive to the park, Matt spotted some large Catasetums in flower and we had to stop and take pictures, they were too nice not to. (see photo # 2-3)
Cerro San Gil is a private ecological reserve funded by United States aid and Fundaeco, a Guatemalan non-profit foundation. It is the largest remnant of tropical rain forest remaining in Guatemala. It is located near the Caribbean Sea between Rio Dolce and Puerto Barrios and covers 3348 acres. Romeo told us that we were the first group to ever be allowed to collect in the area which is very hot and humid with an annual rain fall over 3,600 mm. per year and temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius (80 degrees Fahrenheit). The rescues were limited but we did find one Encyclia Cochleata.
The jungle here was great; a pristine tropical area untouched with over 340 species of birds and an untold number of Aroids, Begonias, Ferns and many different species of tropical trees. Barry, Steve Beam, Jeronimo, Ana Silvia, Jorge and Romeo decided to spend the night at the request of the two Biology students that were stationed there. There is a primitive biological station located on the trail and they stayed there. Arrangements were made to pick the up the next morning at the Rio Carboneras.
The rest of us headed to Rio Dulce for a hot shower, nice dinner and comfortable bed at the Mansion Del Rio!
Tuesday August 13
The next morning, Matt, Scott and myself drove back to the Rio Carboneras at Cerro San Gil to pick up the rest of the group and then we headed back to Rio Dulce for a great day on the river.
The river is beautiful, very tropical and it is Guatemala's longest and only navigable river. It flows East from Lago De Izabal approximately 30 miles to the Amatique Bay in the Caribbean Sea.. The river is 1/3 to 1 mile wide except at its narrowest point called La Vace where it is only 300 feet wide. We were picked up at our hotel by two boats. My friend, Frank Bocock who is owner of the Follajes Tropicales Nursery, was in the lead boat. He is very familiar with the Rio Dulce as he has a home on the river. We then headed east towards a wide part of the river called El Golfete which is 12-15 feet deep and can almost be considered a lagoon. With great mountain views, we could see Cerro San Gil, where we had been yesterday. We then headed North up one of the tributaries toward a location known as Blue Water because it is spring feed.
On the way up the tributary we made many stops to explore for plants. There were Schomburgkias, Catasetum Integerrimum, Maxillaria uncata, Maxillaria
Friedrichsthalli , Epidendrum Difusum and Epidendrum Nocturnum. Also some miniature orchids including Zootrophion Tribuloides, Platystele and Pleurothallis Groby. The plants were in abundance. We had a fantastic day on the river with many plants saved from fallen or downed trees. Everyone wanted to stay another day or two but we had a schedule to follow!
Wednesday August 14
On Wednesday we drove along the North side of Lago De Izabel through towns named El Estor, Setal, Chichipata and Calhoboncito in the Department of Izabel. We then proceeded to the city of Coban located in the Department of Alta Verapaz. This was our final destination for the day. Coban was founded in 1543 by Dominican priests and today has a population of 70,000. Copan is the orchid capital of Guatemala and is categorized as rain forest with cloud covered misty mountains. The average temperature is from 16-29 degrees Celsius (61-84 Fahrenheit).
The travel to Copan was beautiful and the gravel road made the trip very interesting, including a tire blowout in our truck. There were many Catasetums and Oncidiums observed on the way. The day was spent driving and stopping looking at plants and taking photographs. It took us approximately seven hours to reach Copan. We had a great dinner at La Posada Hotel which is located on the piazza in downtown Copan. This provided us with the opportunity to walked around town and do some shopping in the evening.
Thursday August 15
Thursday we headed to Jorge’s brother in law’s coffee plantation. We were given permission to walk around his property to search for and keep any plants that were fallen or endangered. There many species of Pleurothallis, Lycaste and Lepantes orchids and many species of bromeliads. After finding several plants we then headed off to visit a Tillandsia nursery that Jeronimo does business with ( picture # 4) and to conclude the day we went for a tour of the W.E. Dieseldorff coffee plantation. It was founded in 1888 and is located in the shadow of downtown Copan.
Friday August 16
This next day was the day I was waiting for! We visited the Vivero Verapaz orchid nursery which grows over six hundred fifty species. This includes 200 miniature orchids and a collection of Licopodius and bonsai trees for a total of over 60,000 specimens. No one was disappointed with the variety of orchids! The nursery was located on a hillside and the orchids were growing under the shade of gorgeous 14-16 foot tree ferns. The nursery set up was impressive (see pictures). We spent 2 hours with the group purchasing numerous plants (see picture # 5). I purchased 2 native Phragmidpedium Warscewiczianum, which has a lLbellum in the form of a slipper. I also purchased some of the native Lycaste, (see picture# 6). The alba variety of Lycaste Skinneri is the national flower of Guatemala and is known as the White Nun or as the Manja Blanca in Spanish.
After leaving the nursery, we started our return trip towards Guatemala City with a planned stop at the nursery of Frank Bocock. Frank was kind enough to have lunch ready for us on our arrival. After lunch, the real fun part of the trip started. We worked to organized all rescued plants. These were sorted by species and the person who found them to decide which plants they wanted to keep and those going to botanical gardens in the United States. The plants were cleaned, trimmed and damaged foliage was removed. Finally we were able to gleam with pride at the fine work we all had accomplished during the week.
We had our farewell dinner in Guatemala City at the Hacienda Real. This is a great Guatemalan restaurant located in Zona 10. During dinner Romeo made a presentation to the group and thanked us for our conservation on behalf of the Cerro San Gil and Fundaeco.
The trip was a tremendous fun filled and educational success, but as always was much too short! We are planning more trips to help save endangered plants in the wild. Want to go on our next plant adventure???
I would like to thank our new Guatemalan friends, Guatemalan government.
Steven Guiness received his Bachelor’s degree in floriculture from the University of Massachusetts. He is a plant explorer, horticultural travel specialist and an orchid grower. He was a Cacti and Succulent hobbyist for many years but Steve was bitten by the orchid bug after his first trip to Peru in 1999. He has traveled to Belize, Fiji islands, Mexico, Cayman Islands, Alaska, and Kew Gardens in England.
|What is your favorite orchid alliance? (According to how OB has them divided)
|Catasetum and Stanhopea Alliance|
|Cypripedium Alliance - Paphiopedilum|
|Cypripedium Alliance - others|
|Vanda Alliance - Neofinetia|
|Vanda Alliance - Angraecum/Aerangis|
|Vanda Alliance - others|
|Miscellaneous & Other Genera|
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