Biodiversity Springs Eternal at Mashpi Lodge: New Orchid Species Discovered on Nearby Trail

24 March 2020

Lepanthes mashpica deemed endemic to Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve within the Choco Ecoregion of Ecuador, one of the most diverse and threatened forests in the world.

March 23, 2020 (Quito, Ecuador) – Biodiversity just got a bit broader in the Choco ecoregion of northwestern Ecuador with the discovery of a new species of orchid in the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve. Named Lepanthes mashpica for its home, the new orchid brings to 272 the total number of plant species identified within the 6,100-acre reserve surrounding Mashpi Lodge, an eco-luxury cocoon and National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World tucked in the clouds some three hours by car from Ecuador‘s historic capital, Quito.

The discovery of Lepanthes mashpica sprang from a multi-pronged effort involving Mashpi Lodge’s Research & Biology team, the Quito Botanical Garden, and Universidad de las Américas (UDLA), also in Quito. The specimen was collected in 2017 during one of a handful of research excursions on trails surrounding the Lodge.

Luis Baquero, a UDLA researcher, looked for crucial clues with taxonomical methods to establish the distinct traits that set the orchid apart within its genus, and subsequent cataloging confirmed that the species was distinct and previously unrecognized by science, as per the shape, color, and pattern of its flower – most notably the number of hairs over the petals.

Lepanthes mashpica joins an expanding list of endemic species discovered within and named for the Mashpi Reserve, including the iconic Magnolia mashpi and the recently discovered nocturnal frog Mashpi Torrenteer (Hyloscirtus mashpi). According to researcher Baquero, there are several healthy populations of the orchid within the Reserve, and seedlings and adult specimens can be found side-by-side, a positive sign for the long-term health of the species.

Taken together, Lepanthes mashpica is yet another highlight of the amazing biodiversity that occurs within the rich environment of the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve and the Choco ecoregion, one of the most diverse and threatened forests in the world. It’s pretty enough for a prom dress, too.

Launched in Spring 2012, Mashpi Lodge offers 20 Wayra Rooms, 3 Yaku Suites and 1 Wawa room with space for 47 guests. The Lodge is perched at 3,117 feet in the Mashpi Reserve, just 37 miles as the crow flies or 3 - 4 hours by car from Quito.

Rates at Mashpi Lodge start at US $1098 plus taxes per room per night. The rate includes shared transfer from main hotels in Quito, all meals, all guided activities and excursions within the reserve (walks, bird watching and nature encounters, Sky Bike, Life Center, waterfalls and Hummingbird Garden), Wi-Fi, soft drinks and the use of rubber boots and rain ponchos.  For reservations or more information, please visit or email [email protected].

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