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On-line version ISSN 1409-3871

Lankesteriana vol.22 n.2 Cartago May./Aug. 2022 


The discovery of Scaphyglottis punctulata (Laeliinae) in the highlands of Brazilian Amazonia with a key to the species of the region

Adriane Maciel de Araújo1

Francisco Farroñay2

Ricardo de Oliveira Perdiz1  3

Edlley Pessoa4  5

Leandro Giacomin1  6  7

1 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Botânica, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas 69060-001, Brazil. Author for correspondence:

2 Laboratório de Botânica Amazônica (LABOTAM), Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA), Manaus, Amazonas 69060-001, Brazil.

3 Luz da Floresta, Boa Vista, Roraima 69306-320, Brazil.

4 Laboratório de Estudos Integrados de Plantas, Departamento de Botânica e Ecologia, Universidade Federal de Mato Grosso, Cuiabá, Mato Grosso 78060-900, Brazil.

5 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade, Ambiente e Saúde, Universidade Estadual do Maranhão, Caxias, Maranhão 65604-290, Brazil.

6 Centro de Ciências Exatas e da Natureza Campus I, Departamento de Sistemática e Ecologia, Universidade Federal da Paraíba, João Pessoa, Paraíba 58051-090, Brazil.

7 Instituto de Ciências e Tecnologia das Águas & Herbário HSTM, Universidade Federal do Oeste do Pará, Santarém, Pará 68040-255, Brazil.


The genus Scaphyglottis Poepp. & Endl. presents 78 species and occurs from Mexico to Brazil. Scaphyglottis punctulata (Rchb.f.) C.Schweinf. is known from various high elevation locations from Panama to Bolivia. Here, we report new records in two regions of the Brazil portion of the Guiana Shield. We provide a detailed description, photographic plates, updated distribution map, ecological and taxonomic comments for S. punctulata, and an identification key for Scaphyglottis species from the Brazilian portion of the Guiana Shield.

Keywords: epiphytes; Guiana Shield; South America; taxonomy


Scaphyglottis Poepp. & Endl. ranges from Mexico to southern Brazil and contains 78 species (Dressler 2001, Dressler et al. 2004, Govaerts et al. 2021, Szlachetko & Kolanowska 2014). Molecular and morphological studies place the genus in the Laeliinae (Dressler 2004). The genus may be distinguished from the other members of the subtribe by the overlapping pseudobulbs, usually apical leaves, flowers that are almost always resupinate, and a free column (Dressler 2001, Szlachetko & Kolanowska 2014). Brazil has 13 recorded species of Scaphyglottis (Barros et al. 2015, Brazil Flora Group 2022), of which 11 occur in the North region of the country: S. bidentata (Lindl.) Dressler, S. boliviensis (Rolfe) B.R.Adams, S. emarginata (Garay) Dressler, S. fusiformis (Griseb.) R.E.Schult., S. graminifolia (Ruiz & Pav.) Poepp. & Endl., S. imbricata (Lindl.) Dressler, S. modesta (Rchb.f.) Schltr., S. prolifera (Sw.) Cogn., S. reflexa Lindl., S. sickii Pabst, and S. stellata Lodd. ex Lindl. (Brazil Flora Group 2022). Of these 11 species, eight are recorded from the Guiana Shield (GS) (Brazil Flora Group 2022, Cantuária et al. 2021, Pessoa et al. 2015), a region that, within Brazil, is within the states of Roraima, Amapá, Amazonas, and Pará (Barbosa-Silva et al. 2020, Funk et al. 2007).

Regarding hydrography, the GS region covers parts of the Amazon, Negro, and Orinoco river basins (Barbosa-Silva et al. 2020, Berry & Riina 2005). In Brazil, the region contains elevation areas higher than Central Amazonia, including mountains and tepuis that harbor considerable plant species diversity and endemism (Riina et al. 2019). In addition, a series of scientific expeditions carried out recently to some Brazilian protected areas within the Guiana Shield found new records for the Brazilian flora (Barbosa-Silva et al. 2016, 2020, Farroñay et al. 2019, Flores & Rodrigues 2017), including several species of Orchidaceae (Cantuária et al. 2020, Pessoa et al. 2013).

Recently, while analyzing specimens deposited in the herbarium of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia (INPA) coming from floristic surveys, we registered for the first time in Brazil the occurrence of S. punctulata (Rchb.f.) C.Schweinf. Here, we present these new records, accompanied by an updated description, taxonomic and ecological comments, distribution, photographic plates, and an identification key to species of Scaphyglottis recorded in the Brazilian portion of the GS.

Materials and methods

All cited specimens are deposited in the INPA herbarium (acronym according to Thiers 2022, continuously updated). Specimen identities were confirmed with the help of various protologues and specialized literature (Reichenbach 1855, Schweinfurth 1960, Szlachetko & Kolanowska 2014, Vásquez & Ibisch 2004). Morphological analyzes and measurements were carried out in dried material only, and dried flowers were hydrated and dissected for identification. Morphological measurements were performed using ImageJ software (Schneider et al. 2012) on images of the specimens. The distribution map was made within the R environment (R Core Team 2021), using the R packages base (R Core Team 2021), prettymapr (Dunnington 2017), raster (Hijmans 2022), rgdal (Bivand et al. 2021), rworldmap (South 2011), and sf (Pebesma 2018). To determine the conservation status of S. punctulata, we calculated the extent of occurrence (EOO) and area of occupancy (AOO) using the GeoCAT platform (Bachman et al. 2011). Field photographs were taken with a Nikon D3300 camera and photographs of dehydrated specimens with a Leica M205C Stereomicroscope.

Taxonomic treatment

Scaphyglottis punctulata (Rchb.f.) C.Schweinf., Botanical Museum Leaflets 17(2): 47. 1955. ≡ Ponerapunctulata Rchb.f., Bonplandia 3: 220. 1855. (Fig. 1). TYPE: Venezuela. Geitner s.n. (holotype: W!, W0109821, photo; isotypes: unknown).

Epiphytic or rupicolous herbs, 17.6-50.0 cm tall. Pseudobulbs 6.5-20.6 × 0.2 cm, green, overlapping, cylindrical and elongated. Leaves 2 per pseudobulb, 5.3-14.0 × 0.4-0.5 cm, green, conduplicate, apical, lanceolate, apex obtuse to slightly emarginate. Inflorescence 1-2 flowers, 22-29 mm, terminal. Floral bracts 5-8 × 1 mm, purple, lanceolate, base attenuated, apex acute. Flowers 12.7-12.8 mm, resupinate, petals and sepals cream with 5 purple lines, lip dark purple and cream; ovary pedicellate 16-19 × 1 mm, purple and green. Dorsal sepal 8 × 2-3 mm, oblong to ovate, apex acute. Lateral sepals 7-8 × 3 mm, oblong to elliptic, apex acute. Petals 6-8 × 2 mm elliptical to oblong, wider at midportion, apex acute. Lip entire 10-11 × 3-4 mm, obovate, apex emarginate to straight, margin entire to slightly eroded, reflex, concave callus. Column 5-6 × 1 mm, dark purple and cream, wings curved deltoid at the apex, anther obovate, 4-celled, stigmatic cavity conspicuous, obovate. Pollinarium and Capsules not seen.

A-B. Habit.

C-D. Flower, – view.

E-F. Flower, frontal view. Based on Farroñay 1646 (A, C, D) and Perdiz 3619 (B, E, F).

Photographs by F. Farroñay, figure preparation by G. Miranda.

Figure 1 Scaphyglottis punctulata

Distribution, habitat, and phenology

Previously reported for Bolivia, Colombia, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela (Govaerts et al. 2021), and here expanded to Brazil, Scaphyglottis punctulata occurs in highland regions of northern Brazil, with the first collection record in 2001 in the Parque Estadual (PE) Serra do Aracá, Amazonas state, then later collected in 2019 in the Indigenous Territory (IT) Raposa Serra do Sol, Roraima state. At PE Serra do Aracá, the species was recorded in a plateau at 1200 m, in a submontane evergreen rainforest with a canopy of ca. 10 m, on white-sand soil. In the IT Raposa Serra do Sol, the sheet Perdiz et al. 3619 (INPA) was collected by a waterfall on the Cotingo River, surrounded by a forest dominated by Dimorphandra Schott (Fabaceae), with a prevalence of mosses and other species of epiphytic orchids in an open submontane rainforest environment. In the same expedition, Farronãy et al. 1646 (INPA) was found on a 1500 m plateau, in the same type of forest, with a 25 m high canopy, in organic soil over white clay. Based on all records available on online platforms, the species blooms year-round (CRIA 2022, GBIF 2022).

Material examined

BRASIL. Amazonas: Barcelos, Parque Estadual Serra do Aracá, 26 August, 2001, fl., A. Vicentini & R.C. Mesquita. 1851. (INPA 214376); ibid., 22 April, 2014, fl., P. H. Labiak et al. 5707. (RB 601971). Roraima: Uiramutã, Terra Indígena Raposa Serra do Sol, 6 December, 2019, fl., R.O. Perdiz et al. 3619 (INPA 290578); ibid., 13 December, 2019, F. Farroñay et al. 1646 (INPA 290579).

A-D. Dissected perianth showing the morphological variation of the floral pieces, based on Vicentini 1851 (A), Perdiz 3619 (B), Labiak 5707 (C), and Farroñay 1646 (D).

E. Column, pedicellate ovary and bract, based on Farroñay 1646.

Photographs by F. Farroñay (A, B, D, E) and A. M. Araújo (C).

Figure preparation by G. Miranda.

Figure 2 Scaphyglottis punctulata

A. Scaphyglottis stellata Lodd. ex Lindl.

B. Scaphyglottis sickii Pabst.

C. Scaphyglottis prolifera (R.Br.) Cogn.

D. Scaphyglottis fusiformis (Griseb.) R.E.Schultes.

E. Scaphyglottis bidentata (Lindl.) Dressler.

F. Scaphyglottis reflexa Lindl.

Photographs by F. Farroñay (A, D), A. M. Araújo (B, E), L. P. Félix (C), and R. G. Barbosa-Silva (F).

Figure preparation by G. Miranda.

Figure 3 Species of Scaphyglottis that occur in the Guiana Shield. 

Map preparation by R. O. Perdiz.

Figure 4 Geographical distribution of Scaphyglottis punctulata. Sites of old records are indicated by black circles. New record sites are indicated by red triangles. 

Conservation status

Scaphyglottis punctulata is distributed in central and northern South America, with a calculated EOO of 4,882,458.740 km², and an AOO of 360,000 km². Although AOO < 500 km², the number of populations exceeds 10 (condition ''a''); therefore, the species is considered Least Concern (LC) according to the criterea of IUCN (2012).

Taxonomic notes

Based solely on vegetative characters, S. boliviensis is the Brazilian species morphologically closest to S. punctulata, as it also has elongated pseudobulbs and a stalked ovary. However, S. punctulata is distinguished by having 1-2 flowers (vs. 1-4 flowers at S. boliviensis), with an entire oblanceolate lip (vs. trilobed, obovate). Among Brazilian species, the flowers of S. punctulata most closely resemble those of S. fusiformis, differing by having one leaf non conduplicate, a longer lip spathulate (1.1 vs. 0.8 cm), and in the different coloration of the perianth (greenish cream to purple dark vs. yellowish white).

Identification key for Scaphyglottis species known from the Brazilian portion of the Guiana Shield

The first Brazilian collection of S. punctulata dates from almost 21 years ago but was only detected after reviewing the Scaphyglottis samples deposited at INPA herbarium. In Amazonia, it has been relatively common to describe new species (e.g., Damasco et al. 2019, Prata et al. 2016) and to document new records of plants (e.g., Holanda et al. 2015) based on samples sitting in herbaria for long periods. Such phenomena are reported by Bebber et al. (2010) on a global scale but are certainly more common in hyperdiverse tropical forests, where access routes are still scarce. We stress that a more comprehensive understanding of flowering plant diversity and distribution is crucial for any conservation initiative. Our results highlight the importance of new expeditions to Amazonian highlands, where new records of plants and new discoveries are expected. Policies and funding initiatives to facilitate such expeditions would most certainly expand the likely biased (Hopkins 2007, 2019), currently known distribution of Amazonian plant species. It is also important to emphasize that taxonomic studies that unravel such novelties depend on continuous investment, not only for training qualified human resources but enabling their subsequent presence in Amazonian institutions, which currently lack adequate and desired numbers of those professionals.


A. M. Araújo thanks the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior- Brasil (CAPES) - Finance Code 001 for the masters fellowship, Fundo Brasileiro para a Biodiversidade (FUNBIO) and Humanize for the 07/2020 Conservando o Futuro grant, the Fundação de Amparo a Pesquisa do Estado do Amazonas (FAPEAM) PAPAC/2019, the RB herbarium for loans the specimens, the curator of the INPA herbarium Dr. Michael J. G. Hopkins and botanical technician Mariana Mesquita for accessing the INPA herbarium vouchers, B.S. Gustavo Miranda Montealegre for editing the photos, MSc. Lourdes Falen Horna for her support, Dr. Leonardo P. Félix and MSc. Rafael Barbosa-Silva for the photos, and Dr. Alberto Vicentini for his support in this study. Adrian Barnett is greatly acknowledged for the help with the English version. L. L. Giacomin received financial support from UFOPA/ICTA/Pipex 01/2021 and CNPq (422191/2021-3). R. O. Perdiz was funded by a doctoral fellowship from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (no. 142243/2015-9). The scientific expedition to Serra do Sol, located in the Monte Roraima National Park, was financed by the MMA’s Amazon Protected Areas Program (ARPA), and was promoted and coordinated by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) in partnership with the Ingarikó People’s Council and collaboration of the National Indian Foundation. We thank the Ingarikó people for warmly welcoming us to their land Wakî pe man.

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Received: April 21, 2022; Accepted: June 23, 2022

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