The historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu is home to around 425 types of orchids distributed in various ecological niches, including some new species, some of which originate from the archaeological park and are protected by the state. Currently there are around 60 genera of orchids and each one of them enjoys a unique exotic beauty and is part of the attraction of the great biodiversity on the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu .
Orchids were known both in pre – Inca cultures as well as in the Inca culture, some of them have native Quechua names such as WiñayWayna and wakanky (the most beautiful and representative orchid of the Machu Picchu sanctuary). Orchids stand out because of their beauty and striking colors. They illuminate the path in different bright colors like purples, yellows and oranges among others.
The most famous orchids
The diversity of orchids is impressive. There are plants over five meters high whose flower can reach 20 centimeters long.
Some of the most striking orchids are the Sobralia dichotoma, with large fleshy flowers. Also one of the smallest orchids in the world, a Stelis whose flower measures just two millimeters wide.
Likewise, on the Inca Trail, more than 30 species of Epidendrum have been classified, which is a genus of orchids that can withstand difference temperatures.
These are some of the rarest and most striking orchids on the Inca Trail:
- The Masdevallia veitchiana – Also called “Waqanqi”. It measures from 39 to 44 centimeters whose flowers are orange.
- The Pleurothallis – This orchid is used by insects for pollination.
- The Oncidium – Also called “dancing lady.” Any breeze moves its flowers, like a dance. Her lips resembles a ballerina.
- The Brassia – It has up to 30 species. It stands out for its flowers, large and showy.
- The Encyclia – At night it fills the air with the fragrances of its citrus-like perfume.
- The Stanhopea – Characterized by its complex flowers, usually fragrant.
- The Anguloa Maxillaria – These orchids can grow on rocks as long as the air humidity is sufficient.
- The Phragmipedium – The most striking thing about this orchid is that it has whisker-like petals.
- The Odontoglossum – This orchid draws attention for its labellum, which has tooth-shaped calluses in its center.
- Epidendrum secundum – The popular “Wiñay Wayna” a Quechua word meaning forever young. This striking orchid is a dazzling shade of orange and grows abundantly all year round. The Peruvian archaeologist Julio C. Tello named the youthful looking Archeological site close to Machu Picchu after this orchid.