Sobralia gentryi

C.H. Dodson 1998

Endemic to Ecuador

Edited 8 May 2009
© Nina Rach

Sobralia gentryi photo from Ecuagenera

This species was published in 1998 by Calaway Dodson as one of nine new Ecuadoran sobralia species. Dodson named this species for fellow botanist Alwyn H. Gentry, with whom he conducted botanical surveys in western Ecuador during the 1970s and 1980s, mostly concentrated in the Guayas River valley. Gentry was a field botanist and senior curator at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. Gentry and ornithologist Theodore A. Parker III were making a treetop survey of an Ecuadorian cloud forest west of Guayaquil when their light plane crashed into a mountainside on 3 August 1993 (Neill et al., March 1999). The Parker Gentry Award for Conservation Biology was established in their honor. The New York Times quoted Dr. Peter H. Raven, the director of the Missouri Botanical Garden, as saying Dr. Gentry "was undoubtedly the most knowledgeable person in the world about the flora of Latin America." (6 August 1993)

Sobralia gentryi is found only in Ecuador, growing in the western Andean foothills from 500 m to 1500 m, in Carchi, Esmeraldas, and Imbabura Provinces. The species bears large flowers on tall plants; the sepals and petals are white and lip is light pink with yellow in center. Flowers are short-lived but the plants flower repeatedly throughout season. A vouchered specimen at MOBOT (MO) was 3 m tall.

Another color form was collected at El Pahuma, 1800 m; flowers "flushed wine color with yellow lip," AR photo voucher. See Maqui monocots in Bosque Protector Maquipucuna and adjacent areas in Provincia Pichincha, Ecuador. The floristic area extends latitudinally from the Equator to 00°10'N and longitudinally from 78° 35' to 78° 41'W.

At the Southern Ontario Orchid Society Summerfest in August 2006, Ivan Portilla of Ecuagenera described Sobralia gentryi as having "dark pink full flowers that only last one day -typical for Sobralias. This species grows cool to intermediate in moist soils and in high light."

Offered commercially by Ecuagenera ( and Tropical Orchid Farm (Hawaii;

Photo at left from Ecuagenera.


Printed References:

Calaway H. Dodson (1998) in: Orquideologia 21(1): 26. [Article runs from 22-44, and includes nine new Ecuadoran sobralia species.]

Peter Møller Jørgensen & Susana León-Yánez (eds.) (1999) Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador, in: Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden, 75: i--viii, 1--1182. [Sobralias found on pp. 757-759.]

David A. Neill, John L. Clark, Homero Vargas, and Tamara Nuñez (March 1999) "Botanical Exploration of the Mache-Chindul Mountains, Northwestern Ecuador," Final project report submitted to the National Geographic Society.

Online References:

Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador (CVPE), Missouri Botanical Garden,

"In Memoriam: Alwyn H. Gentry, 1945-93,"

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

International Plant Names Index [IPNI],

Inventory of the Vascular Plants of Maquipucuna, Ecuador: Newest Maqui Monocots; ANGIOSPERMAE: MONOCOTS (9 August 2005 Revision): (Pichincha Province)

TROPICOS - W3CEC Web-Searchable Catalogue of the Vascular Plants of Ecuador:

University of Florida Herbarium (FLAS) Collection Catalog, three specimens listed on 9 May 2009, all acquired by Mark Whitten in Ecuador:
FLAS 218892-4: "Purchased from Ecuagenera as S. gentryi. Flowered in cultivation at the University of Florida. Stems to 1 m tall. Flowers white, lip ruffled. Distal portion of lip white, fading to yellow, with orange in throat; underside of lip with two faint spots of pale lavender; pair of prominent keels at base of lip. Column white, with prominent column wings."
"Seems to match vegetative description and photo of pale form of S. gentryi in Orquideologia 21:27, but also seem to match S. stevensonii in flower color and morphology and presence of keels at base of lip."

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