Masdevallia deformis

by Chuck Nishihira

Thin pole trees covered with bryophytes and ferns. Cool temperatures at roughly 2000 meters in elevation.  A clear fast flowing stream filled with good sized boulders coursing nearby. On the rocks and trees, tiny pleurothallids like Lepanthes, Pleurothallis and Stelis are abundant. Everything you expect to find when you are near a ridgeline that has been preserved. We had planned to look for frogs, but it was so easy to be sidetracked as soon as we caught a glimpse of tiny flowers. Squeezing between tightly clustered trees and the branchy debris that they produce takes time. Especially when you are trying to make sure you don’t miss anything. All the extra time seems worthwhile when you come face to face with special little plants and animals.  For me, this was one of those days. Hanging so delicately in the shadows was a beautiful flower of Masdevallia deformis. The brightly colored flower hanging like a pendant bobble from a mossy branch. It was just how I had  imagined it.  The experience of sitting on a carpet of moss and saying hello to it for the first time in it’s natural place will always stay with me.