Lepanthes Eltoroensis

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Lepanthes eltoroensis

No Common Name

ListedNovember 29, 1991
FamilyOrchidaceae (Orchid)
DescriptionSmall, reddish epiphytic orchid.
HabitatMoss-covered trees in wet, upper-elevation forests.
ThreatsCollectors and low numbers.
RangePuerto Rico


Lepanthes eltoroensis is a small, epiphytic (it grows on another plant) orchid found growing on moss-covered trunks of upper-elevation forests in the Luquillo Mountains of eastern Puerto Rico. The orchid is approximately 1.6 in (4 cm) tall, with numerous, slender, three-to-seven sheathed stems terminated by a single leaf. Leaves are 0.4-0.9 in (9-24 mm) long and 0.2-0.4 in (4-9 mm) wide, entire, char-taceous, and obovate to oblanceolate. The inflorescence is a long, peduncled, flat raceme, about one-third as long as the leaves and usually appressed to the back of these leaves. The sepals are narrowly deltoid to deltoid-lanceolate, ciliate, and acute at the apices. The petals are transversely two-lobed, one-nerved, and reddish. The posterior lobes are somewhat longer than the anterior, the lip is three-lobed, and the lateral lobes linear-ovate and about 0.04 in (1 mm) long and 0.01 in (.25 mm) wide. L. eltoroensis is distinguished from other members of the genus by its obovate to oblanceolate leaves, the ciliate sepals, and the length of the inflorescence.


In the Luquillo Mountains, L. eltoroensis has been reported from the sierra palm, palo colorado, and dwarf forest associations at elevations greater than 2,789 ft (850 m). All known locations are within the Caribbean National Forest. It has been reported from several species of trees, all supporting abundant mosses and liverworts. Relative humidity in these forests ranges from 90-100%, and cloud cover is continuous during evening hours and the majority of the day. Annual precipitation ranges from 123-177 in (313-450 cm) in these mountains. Igneous rocks cover most of the area.


L. eltoroensis is endemic to Puerto Rico, where it is found only in the sierra palm, palo colorado, and dwarf forest associations of the Luquillo Mountains, all at elevations greater than 2,789 ft (850 m). The species is currently known from five discrete sites, where it has been found on 40-60 trees.


L. eltoroensis is restricted to the upper elevations of the Luquillo Mountains in the east. The extreme rarity of this orchid makes the loss of even one individual critical. It has been reported that collecting eliminated a previously known population in the sierra palm forest. Even in the Caribbean National Forest, forest management practices such as the establishment and maintenance of plantations, selective cutting, trail maintenance, and shelter construction may affect these orchids. Hurricane Hugo devastated the Caribbean National Forest, creating microclimatic conditions unfavorable for L. eltoroensis by opening numerous canopy gaps in the area of the known populations.

Conservation and Recovery

The management recommendations for this species include the evaluation of any trail or shelter construction activities; diversion of existing trails; relocation of individuals or shading of exposed individuals; and propagation and introduction into protected areas. Because little is known about the biology of L. eltoroensis, 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
(404) 679-4000

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, Río Piedras.

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

Vivaldi, J. L., R. O. Woodbury, and H. Diaz-Soltero.1981. "Status Report of Lepanthes eltoroensis Stimson." U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta.