Variety of Phorophyte Species Colonized by the Neotropical Epiphyte, Laelia rubescens (Orchidaceae)


phorophyte specificity
Costa Rica
tropical dry forest
Laelia rubescens Lindley

How to Cite

Trapnell, D. W., & Hamrick, J. (2006). Variety of Phorophyte Species Colonized by the Neotropical Epiphyte, Laelia rubescens (Orchidaceae). Selbyana, 27(1), 60–64. Retrieved from


Epiphytes comprise ca. 10% of all vascular plant species and therefore contribute substantially to plant diversity, particularly in tropical and subtropical regions. Little is known, however, about the specificity of the relationship between epiphytes and their phorophytes. Phorophyte specificity is assessed for the neotropical epiphytic orchid, Laelia rubescens Lindley, in the tropical dry forest of Costa Rica. A rating system was used to account for local abundance of tree species supporting L. rubescens as well as for the geographic distribution of the orchid-phorophyte association. A nonspecific relationship was observed with L. rubescens growing on 33 tree species and, at one site, limestone rock. In every case where the orchid was locally abundant on a phorophyte, the association also was geographically widespread; however, 70% of the orchid-phorophyte associations were locally sparse. Of these, 35% were widespread, and 65% were restricted.


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