Sobralias of Costa Rica

Edited 19 July 2009
© Nina Rach

Sobralia sign at Lankester Gardens, CR

Costa Rica is a charming and beautiful country in the heart of Central America. Home to the famous Lankester Botanical Gardens (near the town of Paraíso in Cartago); the Monteverde Reserve (including the Children's Eternal Cloud Forest), the Santa Elena Reserve; the Arenal Botanic Gardens; and the northern half of the International Peace Park with neighboring Panama, there is a wealth of botanical interest in this relatively small country.

According to the Manual of Costa Rican plants (2003), there are 1,318 distinct orchid species in the country. The Manual Project is a (US) National Science Foundation-funded collaboration between the Missouri Botanical Garden (MO), INBio, and the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica. Costa Rica's Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad/National Biodiversity Institute (INBio) produces the webpages for BIMS.

Lankester Gardens were established by British orchid enthusiast Charles Lankester West, in 1917. In 1973, his family donated the plants, and the American Orchid Society along with the Stanley Smith Foundation (UK) purchased the grounds and donated them to the University of Costa Rica to perpetuate for research and the enjoyment of the public. The gardens are 14 miles (23 km) east of San José, at 9° 47' N, 83° 53' W; at elevation 4,498 feet (1,371 meters).

In conjunction with the University of Costa Rica, Lankester Gardens recently began publishing the refereed journal Lankesteriana. According to The Cutting Edge, published by the Misouri Botanic Garden, "Almost overnight, Lankesteriana has assumed the role of Novon for the Costa Rican botanical community."

Thanks to the work of Robert and Kerry Dressler, among others, many of the Sobralias of Costa Rica have undergone taxonomic scrutiny and have been published for our reading pleasure.

[More to come...]




Sobralia species found in Costa Rica:
Sobralia amabilis
Sobralia amparoae
Sobralia atropubescens
Sobralia bradeorum
Sobralia corazoi
Sobralia decora
Sobralia dora-emiliae
Sobralia fimbriata
Sobralia fragrans
Sobralia helleri
Sobralia kerryae
Sobralia labiata
Sobralia lancea
Sobralia lepida
Sobralia leucoxantha
Sobralia lindleyana
Sobralia luteola
Sobralia macra
Sobralia macrantha
Sobralia macrophylla
Sobralia mucronata
Sobralia neglecta
Sobralia pfavii
Sobralia powellii
Sobralia suaveolens
Sobralia undatocarinata
Sobralia warscewiczii
Sobralia wercklei
Sobralia wilsoniana

Monteverde, central Costa Rica
[Excerpt taken from " Clouds over a Quaker Forest," by J. Gundersonk and B. Cole, v. 57, no. 3. p. 6-13. 2005]
"Located along the coutinental divide in Costa Rica is one of the the earth's unique environments and a forest rich in natural treasures. Climate gradients from Pacific and Caribbean-facing slopes collide, giving rise to cloud outbursts that swep through a dense tropical canopy. Over relatively short distances, temperature, humidity, and elevation change dramatically, creating explosions of abundant biodiversity. Costa Rica's Monteverde Biological Cloud Forest Reserve is regarded as one of the most spectacular ecological areas in the world. Spawling over twelve thousand acres, the Reserve encompasses several different ecosvstems boasting more than three thousand plants species, hundreds of mammal and bird species, and thousands of insects. These ecosystems are as diverse as thee are unique. Cloud forests are prevalent among the upper elevations, straddling the continental divide. Seasonally dry forests are found on Pacific-facing slopes. Along the lower reaches of the Caribbean-facing side are lush rain forests, fueled by an average annual rainfall of 240 inches - two and a half times that of the Pacific side. The Reserve is located in Monteverde, a sprawling mountainous community in the country's central highlands that, due to the Reserve's allure, has gradually been transformed from a remote and sleepy locale into one of the Western Hemisphere's most popular destinations for ecotourism. Incredibly, not one acre of this extraordinary habitat would be protected if not for the conservation efforts of Quakers who migrated from the U.S. state of Alabama nearly fifty-five years ago. Founded by this peace-loving sect, the Monteverde Reserve in Costa Rica is facing challenges of its booming ecotourism business."

Robert Dressler, Kerry Dressler, and Leon Glicenstein are well-known speakers on the orchids of Costa Rica.

Printed References:

Robert L. Dressler (1993) Field Guide to the Orchids of Costa Rica and Panama. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 374 pp.

Orchids of Costa Rica (field guide), INBio Editorial.

Barry E. Hammel, M. H. Grayum, C. Herrera, and N. Zamora (eds.) (2003) Manual de plantas de Costa Rica. Vol. III. Monocotiledóneas (Orchidaceae-Zingiberaceae). Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 93: 1-884.
"This volume, the second in this series to be published, completes the Manual account of Costa Rican monocots. Ten families are treated here, entraining a total of 1861 spp. in 331 genera, but with 97% of the sp. total in just two families: Orchidaceae, by far the largest plant family in the country, with 1318 spp.; and Poaceae, with 488 spp. The basic features of this work are the same as already described for Vol. II [see The Cutting Edge 10(4): 7-8, Oct. 2003], except that there is no presentation or prologue this time around. Contributors of family treatments for this volume include: John T. Atwood (SEL; Orchidaceae, pro parte); Garrett E. Crow (NHA; Pontederiaceae, Potamogetonaceae); Robert L. Dressler (FLA/MO; Orchidaceae, principal coordinator); Javier García-Cruz (XAL; Orchidaceae, pro parte); Eric Hágsater (AMO; Orchidaceae, pro parte); Carlyle A. Luer (MO; Orchidaceae, pro parte); Paul J. M. Maas and Hiltje Maas-van de Kamer (U; Triuridaceae, Zingiberaceae); J. Francisco Morales (INB; Poaceae, Smilacaceae); Gerardo Salazar (AMO; Orchidaceae, pro parte); Luis Sánchez Saldaña (AMO; Orchidaceae, pro parte); and Miguel A. Soto Arenas (AMO; Orchidaceae, pro parte)." [published in The Cutting Edge, Vol. XI(1), January 2004]

Phil Seaton (2003) "One man and his orchids," in: Orchids 72: 758-763.
"The featured gentleman is none other than Gabriel Barboza, who suddenly (at least, from our perspective) has gained prominence as the number one orchid dude in the Monteverde region [see also The Cutting Edge 9(1): 11-12, Jan. 2002]. Barboza is described as a former INBio parataxonomist (how could we not know this?) and an accomplished illustrator, who studied under Manual Orchidaceae contributor John Atwood, Kerry Dressler, the wife of Manual Orchidaceae coordinator Robert L. Dressler who (together with Atwood and Barboza) appears in one of the photos." [published in The Cutting Edge, Vol. XI(1), January 2004]

Online References:

ING: Index Nominum Genericorum, URL: from the U.S. National Herbarium, Dept. of Systematic Biology - Botany, Smithsonian Institution

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Great Map

Comments? Questions?

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