12 March 2023
While on the trail in Ecuador at Yanacocha Reserve on 31 Jan 2023, this beautiful native flower attracted my attention. Nasa grandiflora, is a member of the Loasaceae family and endemic to the mountains of Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia.
I could not resist looking inside the flower bell so I tipped it up and took two photos, one focused at the opening, the other focused deep inside.
Most people don’t touch this plant but I didn’t notice its black spines, including on the sepals (see photo below) that act like stinging nettle when you touch them. It’s a good thing it was so cold that I was wearing gloves.
The second flower that caught my attention was along the back roads in the Mindo area and was hard to miss. Its vines draped over everything at the sunlit openings.
Black-eyed susan vine (Thunbergia alata) is native to eastern Africa but is grown in gardens in many countries. In tropical areas it has become invasive including in Ecuador and Florida.
Gardeners don’t realize what they’ve wrought until it’s too late. Here are some examples from the invasives section of Bugwood.org.
The two flowers have different survival strategies: The native flower has a spiny defense. The alien overcomes the competition.
(photos by Kate St. John and from Bugwood.org, click on bugwood captions to see the originals)