Sustainable harvesting and conservation of Laelia furfuracea, a rare epiphytic orchid from Oaxaca, Mexico



Many epiphytic orchids are harvested in Mexico for different purposes. Laelia furfuracea is one of the most intensively traded species. Its inflorescences are used as ornaments during the December festivities. We investigated the effect of severing the flowering pseudobulb. This is the traditional technique frequently used by collectors at the study area. We wished to investigate its effects on the production of new pseudobulbs, as well as on their size and flowering probability. Also, we examined the survival probability and growth of individuals that had fallen on the ground to evaluate their potential as trading resources. Inflorescence collection did not affect the production of new pseudobulbs the following season. However, it affected the size of these pseudobulbs, as well as their flowering probability. Yet, the direction of this effect was not consistent between years. Nearly six percent of all L. furfuracea plants at the study site were found on the ground. Over 80 percent of them survived for at least two years, although most of them showed pseudobulb loss over that period of time. We conclude that harvesting of flowering pseudobulbs may be sustainable in terms of its effects on plant performance, at least in the short term. The active management of plants that have fallen on the ground may reduce the harvesting pressure on natural populations. Harvesting of flowering pseudobulbs may diminish some aspects of plant performance, but its effects need to be evaluated with complete life cycle data and take into account interannual variation in vital rates.
Date made available2020
PublisherInstituto Politécnico Nacional

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