Cranichis Ricartii

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Cranichis ricartii

No Common Name

ListedNovember 29, 1991
FamilyOrchidaceae (Orchid)
DescriptionTerrestrial orchid with spike of green flowers.
HabitatMoist serpentine scrub forest.
ThreatsCollectors, forest management practices, and low numbers.
RangePuerto Rico


Cranichis ricartii is a small terrestrial orchid which may reach 10.6 in (27 cm) in height. The roots are few, fleshy, cylindric, and villous. The several leaves are basal, erect, and about 0.8-1.2 in (2-3 cm) long. The green, spreading blades are ovate to broadly elliptic, and 0.8-1.4 in (2.1-3.5 cm) long and 0.6-0.8 in (1.4-2.0 cm) wide. Infloresences are terminal, scapose, spicate and pubescent. The raceme is many flowered and may reach up to 3.9 in (10 cm) in length. Flowers are small, erect, non-resupinate, and green. The petals are filiform-oblanceolate, 0.07 in (1.9 mm) long, 0.008 in (0.2 mm) wide, reflexed, and adpressed along the margins of the dorsal sepal but becoming somewhat free with age. The lip is green with a white margin, short-clawed, pinched near the base, fleshy, essentially glabrous, and about 0.08-1.0 in (2-2.5 mm) long. The column is short, stout, and conspicuously winged. The fruit is an ellipsoid capsule, 0.2-0.3 in (5-7 mm) long. Plants flower in the fall and most flowers quickly develop fruit. The flowers may be autogamous and seed set appears to be low suggesting that the pollination mechanism may be inefficient.


C. ricartii was first discovered by Ruben Padron and Dr. Juan Ricart in 1979 in the Mariaco Commonwealth Forest of the western mountains of Puerto Rico. In this forest it is found growing in the humus of moist serpentine scrub forests of montane ridges at elevations above 2,231 ft (680 m). Here, it is associated with C. ranichis tenuis, another terrestrial orchid.


C. ricartii, an endemic orchid, has been reported from three locations in the moist serpentine scrub forests of the Maricao Commonwealth Forest but it has not been observed at all of these sites every year. A total of approximately 30 individual plants have been observed.


C. ricartii is endemic to Puerto Rico and within the island is limited in distribution. C. ricartii is limited in range to the upper elevations of the mountains in the Maricao Commonwealth Forest in the west. The extreme rarity of this orchid makes the loss of even one individual critical. This orchid is small and easily overlooked. In both the Caribbean National Forest and the Maricao Commonwealth Forest, forest management practices, such as the establishment and maintenance of plantations, selective cutting, trail maintenance, and shelter construction, may affect this orchid.

Conservation and Recovery

The management recommendations include the evaluation of any trail or shelter construction activities and diversion of existing trails. Because little is known about the biology, it is recommended that studies concentrate on the reproductive biology of the species and searches for new populations.


U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Regional Office, Division of Endangered Species
1875 Century Blvd., Suite 200
Atlanta, Georgia 30345

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Boquerón Ecological Services Field Office
P.O. Box 491
Boquerón, Puerto Rico 00622-0491
Telephone: (787) 851-7297
Fax: (787) 851-7440


Ackerman, J. D. 1989. "Prescotia and Cranichis of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands." Lindleyana (1):42-47.

Liogier, H. A. and L. F. Martorell. 1982. Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: A Systematic Synopsis. University of Puerto Rico. Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico. 342 pp.

Stimson, W. 1969. "A Revision of the Puerto Rican Species of Lepanthes (Orchidaceae)." Brittonia 21:332-345.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 29 November 1991. "Determination of Endangered Status for Cranichis ricartii." Federal Register 56.

Vivaldi, J. L., R. O. Woodbury, and H. Diaz-Soltero.1981. "Status report of Lepanthes eltorensis Stimson." Submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 31 pp.