Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wildflowers and Native Plants of Peru - A Tourist view

Native Plants flowering at Machu Picchu, Peru
From adventure traveler to casual tourist, the Inca Trail provides an unforgettable experience. I traveled it over forty years ago and still dream of the cool, lush, humid Andean rain forest full of unusual flora and fauna. The mystery of the high city and long forgotten tales. If I was taking the trip today, I'm sure I would soak up all the bromeliads and orchids which are native to this area.  The native flower is an orchid! Peruvian native plants are often lusted after house plants :)  The abundance of unusual native plants in Peru is acute in the Machu Picchu Sanctuary and nearby areas. Peru hosts more than 3,000 known orchid species, and some experts claim that this is only half of the Peruvian native species; more to be discovered!  So just think, if you take this hike you might discover an orchid that you could call your own?!



I'm sharing photos taken on a recent trip to Peru by an intrepid group of college seniors. Oh - and lest I forget, below is the crew as they are on the Inca Trail reaching Machu Picchu - how fun does this look?  Thank you Rachel for permission to post your photos.  They experienced beauty riding the train from the City of Cuzco, strolling in Aguas Calientes, meandering at Machu Picchu, hiking through the lush rain forest, babbling along gentle waterfalls, relaxing in city gardens, and resting in church yards.  
Inca Trail - Spring Break - 2014



So please enjoy the photos below. If you can identify any of the species let me know and I'll label them!










Looks like a violet!







Peruvian orchid, National Flower

The picture to the left is the orchid that is the national flower of Peru. Rachel told me the folklore of forbidden love and this flower.  Two lovers who were not allowed to be together so they sought help from the gods.  The answer to their prayers was that the man was turned into a hummingbird and the female was turned into this orchid flower.   This makes sense as this particular orchid, with it's long petals and structure, is pollinated by hummingbirds. I found two other fables regarding orchids. Both of which deal with unrequited love. One is a tale that says a young princess was turned into the orchid and her lover would cry when he saw this remembering his lost love. 

Should you decide to take this adventure - besides great flora and vistas, you may get the opportunity to enjoy a traditional and important Andea protien source - Cuy ("coo-ee") which is  guinea pig to you and I! There are even Cuy festivals.  I remember trying this and having it served in a fetal position whole on the plate. Here was Rachel's experience with this cuisine. I didn't ask if she thought it tasted like Chicken.  
Today I'm recalling pan-pipe music echoing through the mist.
Enjoy!
Teresa Marie