Plantas de la selva: Vol. 7


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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 6


Vivid colors, translucent leaves; one of my favorite jungle photos.

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Orchids of the Oriente


Wild orchids are in abundance here. They’re beautiful and diverse and even odd. Here are couple of the most common, and also most accessible. Many also grow far higher up the canopy. Of course, as beautiful as they are, more than a few have been felled by a volunteer’s machete. We’re conserving crucial parts of the forest and working in subsistence agriculture for a poor community, which sometimes takes precedence over pretty flowers.


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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 5

Blue and yellow

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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 4


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Jungle fruit provides chocolate surprise


Cacao fruit harvested and eaten fresh in the jungle. Fantastic, fantastic end to a sweaty morning of machete work on a jungle trail.

The gooey part tastes like chocolate and we simply spit out the seeds. Below, you can see Sebastian, one of our Shuar guides, who climbed a tree to pluck a few for us.

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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 2

Almost waxen

Our series of interesting and/or weird plants continues. Any botanist out there can feel free to identify.

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Primary forest, sustainable life cycle

Old growth

At Arutam, the Shuar community where I worked, the villagers are responsible for a couple thousand hectares of Amazon, allotted to them by the government. Their model, with the hands and dollars of ecotourists and paying volunteers (me), is to develop a small portion of the forest — cutting for banana plantations and fish ponds and whatnot — while keeping pressure off the remaining primary forest.

The above photo shows a tree reaching into the upper jungle canopy. The tree, by the estimates of our guides, could be 200 years old. In the present model, it’s protected because of, not in spite of, the community clearing land nearer the road and their homes for agriculture and aquaculture.

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Plantas de la selva: Vol. 1

Necesito un libre bontanico

There will be lots of these pictures, of flowers from the jungle, whose name Spanish or English name the local community doesn’t know. Hell, some of them don’t even have Shuar names.

But I’ve photographed them and will wait for word from a botanist, if one is reading.

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Floral nostalgia in Pondicherry

My favorite flower

When I was a child, my father tried, with some limited success, to grow plants from his childhood in India. And so it was that bougainvillea became one of my favorite flowers. We had a small potted plant with deep red leaves, but in India (and many other semi-tropical climates) they grow in many shades and as big as small trees.

The above comes from a warm street in Pondicherry.

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