Roadside beauty in Ecuador

Friday, May 24, 2013

 

Swallowtail puddling to sip
minerals.

An astonishing number of flowers sparkle from the sides of a dirt road here is southern Ecuador. Bromeliads, gesneriads, palms and  heliconias along with birds and butterflies.

 A huge orange flower of a liana called Guarnia dangled from its stem. Inside hairy orange bracts are tubular yellow corollas, making the whole cluster stand out among the foliage. Called a jungle cucumber, the flowers are pollinated by heliconias butterflies.

Fuchsia and butterfly

 

Charming yellow-green bell-shaped flowers of an Iochroma shyly nod toward earth. Tubular flowers on Cavendeshia are red -- signaling to hummingbirds as does a red Kohleria, with kissing anthers characteristic of gesneriads. A butterfly with orange bars that matches a bold fuchsia favored us with a visit.

Oropendula nests.

Long, tear-drop-shaped woven nests of the yellow and black oropendulas are engineered to hang below tree canopies, allowing bird-safe ingress and egress.

Mauritius flexulosa, the achu palm, has enormous clusters of edible seeds beneath its palmate fronds, and is one of the most useful palms in the country.