Latest Plant Discoveries  


Some of these have links to botanical illustrations and descriptions. See also Mystery Plants for as-yet-unidentified plants that I suspect may be new.


Stenomesson sp. nov.: This amaryllid grows near Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador, on shear rock cliffs in cloud forest at about 1200m. Alan Meerow and I will describe it..

Eucharis sp. nov.: This amaryllid also grows near Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador. I found it while searching for a "lost" amaryllid, Pamianthe sp., which was known from a single specimen collected by Cal Dodson years ago on the Loja-Zamora road. While walking along the roadside a local passer-by recognized my companions, Bob Ridgely, Nigel Simpson, and Pancho Sornoza, and stopped to talk. I asked him if he had ever seen a white flower coming from a bulb around there, and he said yes. So the next day Nigel and I went with him, expecting to find Pamianthe, but instead we found leaves of this unknown Eucharis, which finally bloomed in my bathroom three months later. Alan Meerow and I will describe it..

Habenaria sp. nov.: I discovered this terrestrial orchid in one of the Jocotoco Foundation's bird conservation reserves. Their reserves are very important for plant conservation as well as for bird conservation. See Orchids of the Jocotoco Reserves for a report.

3 New Psilochilus species: These three species all grew in the same place on the Galeras Mountains near Volcan Sumaco in eastern Ecuador. They are currently being described by Erik Rothacker and myself, and Erik is also sequencing their DNA. See all three species at Psilochilus.

Campylocentrum jostii Dodson: An unusual genus related to the vandaceous orchids of Asia rather than to neotropical groups. I found this species in a beautiful wet ridgetop forest in the Rio Topo-Rio Zuñac valley near Baños, Ecuador.

Stellilabium jostii Dodson: This tiny orchid mimics the rear end of a female fly, and male flies try to mate with it, thus pollinating the flower. I found it in May 2003 near Mera on the eastern edge of my study area.

2 New Brachionidium species: Two species of Brachionidium that I found in the Cordillera del Condor in Dec 2002 are new. They are both like B. galeatum (which I also found on the same trip) but they have lips that are rather different from that species and from each other. For more info see my Cordillera del Condor Report and my article for Selbyana, New Pleurothallid Orchids from the Cordillera del Condor of Ecuador.

Five more new Teagueia species!: In Jan 2003 my friends R. and D. Kunstaetter and I trekked for nine days in the virtually unknown mountains south of the Rio Pastaza near my home in central Ecuador. We found fourteen species of Teagueia, including five new species (see my Teagueia monograph for additional photos). Most of the new species grew at or above timberline. This was the first trip in which I managed to get so high up on a Teagueia mountain; it may be that there are more new species above timberline on the other Teagueia mountains in my study area. Stay tuned!

Masdevallia loui Luer: Another new warm-growing Masdevallia from the same forest as Masdevallia stigii (see below). Stig Dalstrom came to visit me over Christmas 2002, and we went back to the same general area where we had found the Masdevallia stigii. To our surprise we found many other Masdevallia species, at least one of them new. Dr. Luer has described this new one as M. loui in his fifth volume of his Masdevallia monographs. It seems closely related to M. lintricula.

Ponthieva jostii Dodson: This orchid comes from Cerro Mayordomo, like Maxillaria kunstaetterorum and many other new orchid species. I discovered it while totally lost. I had forgotten my compass but didn't notice until I was high up on Mayordomo, trying to get down. Low clouds obscured the ridgelines, and I mistook the hills south of Mayordomo for the hills west of Mayordomo. So I was disoriented by 90 degrees, and kept coming up against vertical dropoffs where I was expecting a gentle ridgeline. I had just about resigned myself to sleeping in that cold wet forest without a tent or food or water, when I found a cut tree. That eventually led me to a faint trail and a way out of the maze of dangerous cliffs.

In Oct 2002 Dr. Dodson confirmed that it was new and was in the process of describing it.

Masdevallia stigii Luer and Jost: In March 2001 Stig Dalstrom and I were exploring some low mountains in my study area. Stig, who has painted many species of Masdevallia and knows the genus well, found several nonflowering Masdevallia plants that he suspected might be new. He gave two plants to me. A year later one of them finally flowered, and it indeed turned out to be new, and exceptionally beautiful too. Unfortunately there are only a couple of plants known. Stig and I went to look for it again in Dec 2002, and found a few more plants of this species (and we discovered another new species as well; see M. loui above). Dr Carl Luer has described M. stigii in the fifth volume of his Masevallia monographs.
Maxillaria kunstaetterorum:    I discovered this species in Nov 2001 on Cerro Mayordomo, with my friends Robert and Daisy Kunstaetter (who have just published their book, Trekking in Ecuador). We were camping on that mountain, trying to reach the summit. Unfortunately the weather was unusually good, so there was no rainwater to collect for drinking, and no streams on the knife-edge ridgeline that was the only access to the summit. Robert and I were reduced to squeezing the dew from moss, and while collecting the moss I noticed this peculiar Maxillaria that I had never seen before. Dr. Calaway Dodson has examined it and in October 2002 confirmed that it is a new species. He is in the process of describing it. I asked that it be named after my patient hiking companions.

TWENTY new Teagueia species!!: In Feb 2000 I discovered the first four long-creeping Teagueia species, described by Dr Carl Luer in Volume XX of his Icones monographs. I found them on Cerro Mayordomo; they are Teagueia alyssana, T. sancheziae, T. jostii, and T. cymbisepala.Then in late 2001 I discovered another large set of new creeping Teagueia species on the next mountain west of Mayordomo. In May 2002 I sent two of my students, Andy Shephard and Pailin Wedel, to a mountain south of Mayordomo, and they discovered yet another big set of new species. I have since discovered still more species on Mayordomo, and it is clear that there must be many more in the region. This is one of the strangest and most surprising situations in all of Ecuadorian botany. The discoveries are described in more detail in Teagueia Explosion!, and each species is treated in the online Monograph of the Genus Teagueia Luer (Orchidaceae) which I am preparing for this website. I am in the process of making the botanical illustrations necessary for their description.

Epidendrum LJ 3762 : In Nov 2001 I found this Epidendrum at high elevations (3200m) on Cerro Mayordomo. Epidendrum is a very diverse genus, and often overlooked. I collected this one because it was very different from any other I had ever seen, and because everything else on that mountain was turning out to be new. Dr. Dodson showed it to Dr. Eric Hagsater, the expert on Epidendrum, and he confirmed that it is new. I do not know when it will be published.

Lepanthes mayordomensis Jost and Luer: In Nov 2001 I found this Lepanthes at a high elevation (2800m) on Cerro Mayordomo. I only found one plant. It is rather like L. tungurahuae, but the wing-shaped lip and oddly shaped petals distinguish it. It has been published in Dr. Carl Luer's Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXVII.

Lepanthes spruceana Jost and Luer: This very hairy new Lepanthes is one of a number of closely related species, including L. zunagensis, L. urotepala, and the undescribed species LJ 2492b and LJ 3494. I found it in late Nov 2002 on my nine day expedition into the poorly known Sacha Llanganates mountains. All of these related species grew together in exactly the same place, at 2100-2300 m. I only found one plant of this species, unfortunately. It has been published in Dr. Carl Luer's Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXVII.
Lepanthes LJ 3494 : This new Lepanthes is one of a number of closely related species--see above, under LJ 3580. I found it in late Nov 2002 on my nine day expedition into the remote Sacha Llanganates mountains.
Lepanthes LJ 3408 : This new Lepanthes is another of the many new species of subgenus Brachycladium that I have found on the Cordillera Abitagua and the Sacha Llanganates. I found it without flowers but suspected it might be new, so I took it home and grew it. It finally flowered after a year of waiting.

Lepanthes neillii Jost: This striking new Lepanthes was growing in a very remote part of the Cordillera del Condor, near the border between Ecuador and Peru. This mountain range is isolated from the main body of the Andes, and is geologically unique, so it has many endemic species. Nevertheless the area has not been well explored, because of border tensions (including skirmishes and landmines). A recent peace treaty between the two nations has demilitarized the border, opening it up for botanical exploration. In early 2001 I went on an expedition led by David Neill of the Herbario Nacional, flying in to a remote airstrip cut out of the forest by Shuar indians (the famous tribe that until recently shrunk the heads of their enemies). The Shuar  helped us reach a strange sandstone plateau at 2000m that was so sterile and free of nutrients that its woody plants were all stunted. Some terrestrial Sobralia orchids actually overtopped the canopy of the stunted trees. Jose Manzanares accompanied us and found many new bromeliad species here.

     I found this Lepanthes at the foot of the sandstone mesa. It was without flowers but it had an old dry inflorescence that was very unusual, so I collected it. I kept it alive until, more than a year later, it finally flowered and proved to be a new species. It is described in Selbyana 25:11-16 (2004); see New Pleurothallid Orchids from the Cordillera del Condor of Ecuador.


Maxillaria jostii Dodson: On our 2001 expedition to the Cordillera del Condor (see Lepanthes LJ3154, above) David Neill and I each found a plant of this spectacular new Maxillaria growing in white sand. Since there was already a M. neillii, Dr Dodson chose to name it after me. I have drawn it (click here for the drawing) and Dr. Dodson is publishing it. It has also appeared in Vol. 3 of Dodson and Hirtz's Native Orchids of Ecuador.
Lepanthes ornithocephala Jost and Luer: I found two plants of this new species in the same place as Masdevallia "stigii" (see above). The plants are virtually identical to L. benzingii in form and in habit, and the flowers also have the same color pattern as L. benzingii. In the field I mistook them for that species, but I collected them anyway for my studies of geographical variation in Lepanthes. When I got home and examined them under a microscope I was surprised to see that the flowers were structurally completely different from L. benzingii. The appendix (a tiny organ on the lip that presumably imitates the female genitalia of the pollinator) is one of the most complex of any Lepanthes appendices. Since finding the first plants, I have also found this species on the Cordillera Galeras. It has been published in Dr. Carl Luer's Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXVII.
Lepanthes LJ 2680: Francisco Sanchez found the first plant of this species lying on the ground in a very wet windy forest that we were visiting. It must have been broken off by the wind. Only one growth was present on the broken plant, but there was a flower, so I knew it was a new species. We looked hard for the mother plant, but to no avail. We did find numerous Trichosalpinx-like plants, with long chains of leaves and stems, each growing from the base of the previous leaf. I took some of those home to grow. When they bloomed I realized that they were not Trichosalpinx at all but our new Lepanthes, though with a very un-Lepanthes-like growth habit. The only other Lepanthes in Ecuador that make these kind of chains of growths are L. series and my L. serialina. This one had fooled me completely. Luckily I had accidentally collected plenty of specimens thinking they were Trichosalpinx. I have drawn it but took too long....another orchid investigator found it and Dr. Luer published his discovery.
Lepanthes LJ 2501: On 9 Dec 2000 I managed to get quite a bit higher than I had previously gone in the Cordillera Abitagua. I was excited to find four new species of Lepanthes in a single hour, including this distinctive one with a narrow lip appressed to the column. I have drawn it for Dr. Luer.
Lepanthes pseudomucronata Jost and Luer: This is another of the new species I discovered on 9 Dec 2000, when I managed to get higher than I had previously gone in the Cordillera Abitagua. This one is somewhat controversial because of its similarity to the highly variable L. mucronata. Dr Luer is not yet convinced it is a good species. However, I found many of these plants at two sites ten kilometers apart, and all were alike. I also found true L. mucronata at these same sites, growing very close to these individuals, yet there were no intermediates. I believe they are different species, because they are sympatric without interbreeding. They also look very different from L. mucronata in life, with a more or less downward facing, almost campanulate flower as opposed to L. mucronata's more horizontal flower with longer petal "whiskers". It has been published in Dr. Carl Luer's Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXVII
Lepanthes LJ 2492b: This is another of the new species I discovered on 9 Dec 2000 in the Cordillera Abitagua. It is distinguished by the big lower petal lobes which are longer than the upper lobes, the reverse of most Lepanthes. There are several closely related species in this mountain system, including L. zunagensis, L. urotepala, and at least three new species. All but L. urotepala are endemic to my study area (see Biogeography of the Pastaza Watershed), and these endemic ones probably all evolved from L. urotepala. I am drawing it for Dr. Luer to publish in early 2003.

On this page I do not include species I discovered between 1998 and 2000, since those have all been adequately published. Those species will however be dealt with in my Biogeography of the Pastaza Watershed online book. Here I simply list them:

Luer, C. A. 2002. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XXIV: A First Century of New Species of Stelis of Ecuador, Part 1. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden:

Lepanthes exigua Luer and Jost, p. 94.




Luer, C. A. 2000. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XX: Sytematics of Jostia, Andinia, Barbosella, Barbodria, and Pleurothallis subgen. Antilla, subgen. Effusia, subgen. Restrepioidia.. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden:

New genus Jostia Luer, p. 1.
Lepanthes pendula Luer and Jost, p. 118.
L. tetrachaeta Luer and Jost, p. 119.
Teagueia alyssana Luer and Jost, p. 131.
T. cymbisepala Luer and Jost, p.132.
T. jostii Luer, p. 132.
T. sancheziae Luer and Jost, p. 133.








Luer, C. A. 1999. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVIII: Sytematics of Pleurothallis subgen. Pleurothallis sect. Pleurothallis subsect. Antenniferae, subsect. Longiracemosae, subsect. Macrophyllae-Racemosae, subsect. Perplexae, subgen. Pseudostelis, subgen. Acuminatia. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden:

Lepanthes abitaguae Luer and Jost, p. 139.
L. aprina Luer and Jost, p. 139.
L. barbigera Luer and Jost, p. 140.
L. elytrifera Luer and Jost, p. 140.
L. hispidosa Luer and Jost, p.141.
L. hydrae Luer and Jost, p. 141.
L. jostii Luer, p. 142.

L. marshana Luer and Jost, p. 142.

L. privigna Luer and Jost, p. 143.

L. ruthiana Luer and Jost, p. 147.

L. staatsiana Luer and Jost, p. 147.










Luer, C. A. 1998. Icones Pleurothallidinarum XVII: Sytematics of Subgen. Pleurothallis sect. Abortivae, sect. Truncatae, sect. Pleurothallis subsect. Acroniae, subsect. Pleurothallis, subgen. Dracontia, subgen. Unciferia.. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden:

Lepanthes ariasiana Luer and Jost, p.104.
L. mooreana Luer and Jost, p. 106.
L. serialina Luer and Jost, p. 107.
L. viebrockiana Luer and Jost, p. 108.
Scaphosepalum jostii Luer, p.116.







My painting of Lepanthes viebrockiana.

For more of my paintings, click here.

I want to express my sincerest gratitude to Dr. Carl Luer for his help and guidance in my orchid studies. Special thanks to John and Ruth Moore for their generous financial support since the beginning via donations to the Population Biology Foundation, and to the San Diego County Orchid Society for their continuing support. Thanks also to the Orchid Resource Center, the Center for International Studies-Andean Study Programs, Kent and Cherise Udell, and R. Bozek and Alyssa Roberts. The discoveries reported here are theirs as well as mine.