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Our Mission is to serve an educational function in providing the general public with botanical and horticultural information on the genus Encyclia and other orchidaceae that have once been classified as Encyclia, in order to promote the cultivation, propagation, conservation, hybridization and exhibition of these orchids both ex and in situ.

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Encyclias in the Atlantic Rainforest of Brazil

by Patricia Harding

I visited the beach areas of Sao Paulo, Brazil, in January of 2002 so I could have first-hand experience of the Encyclia habitat known as the Atlantic Rainforest.   This environment is a lowland tropical/subtropical rainforest that lies slightly below the Tropic of Capricorn yet remains tropical due to ocean currents that keep the climate warm.  

I was hosted by Mauro Peixoto, an internet acquaintance turned friend, and his family.  Mauro picked my daughter and me up at the Mogi des Cruz bus station and we stayed at his family�s farm for several days. His home, having lots of beds and space, is equipped to handle guests.  When I envision heaven, I imagine Mauro�s verandah.   I cannot say enough about the warm welcome his family gave us, but that has nothing to do with orchids, it just reflects the Brazilian lifestyle.   

We made several day trips specifically in search of orchids, though I was interested in any plant we found.  One day, at a beach named Guaratuba in the Prefecture of Bertioga,  we went to a rain forest just off the sand.  We only spent a few hours there but we found Encyclia (Prosthechea/Anacheilium) fragrans.  E. vespa, E. patens (odoratissima), E. longifolia, and E. fausta, are also found there, but we didn�t see any during our short afternoon there.   

The Encyclia fragrans wasn�t in bloom, but it was wonderful to see the habitat, where water was constantly dripping from leaves and collecting in shallow pools scattered about.  It rains there every day for an hour or so, sometimes heavily; the humidity was high but not overpowering.  There was a pleasant breeze and the temperatures were warm without being uncomfortable. Trees were the prominent vegetation, growing about 20 feet apart, with ferns, bromeliads, and orchids sparsely attached to their trunks. Huge bromeliads grew on the ground.  We did scare up a hive of enormous black bumble bees which added some instant excitement and long lasting pain. Then we went the home of a  friend of Mauro�s for beer and talking orchids and heleconias (this person was heavily into both, perhaps all three). 

Mauro has a greenhouse (really more of a shade house) where he grows many, many orchids, but you can tell his current passion is Gesneriaceae.  He has lots of Encyclia, but I saw only campos-portoi in bloom.  He grows them in clay or plastic mesh pots with tree fern fiber and he controls pests by hanging almost all his plants. 

I loved my trip to Brazil.  Though I don�t think you have to have a guide, Brazil is so big and environmentally diverse that if you only have a short time to visit it makes sense to have someone who can show you the habitats.  I found Mauro to be an excellent guide and fun to be with.  He was knowledgeable of orchids and almost all native plants, birds, animals and insects. I would recommend you contact him if you are interested in an orchid or natural habitat trip.  He will keep the expenses down yet knows where to go and the easiest way to get there, and his enthusiasm for sharing Brazilian natural history is wonderful.  He has a web site about tours he offers: http://discoverbrazil.cjb.net/.

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Last modified: August 11, 2004

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