Welcome to Towards a Modern Orchid Flora of Panama a project which started in 2012 as a collaboration between Jardín Botánico Lankester of the University of Costa Rica and Herbario UCH of the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, Panama. This project focuses on the taxonomy, systematics and conservation of the Orchidaceae of Panama aimed to complete an updated treatment of the orchids in Panama.


The Mesoamerican region is one of the richest in orchid diversity in the world. About 2670 species, 10% of all orchids known, have been recorded there. The distribution of orchids in the region is not uniform. Diversity at country level depends on geological, climatic, and orographic factors as well as territorial extension. However, when examining the diversity index for Orchidaceae (calculated as number of species/ km2), a trend is evident. The southern regions of the isthmus, with Costa Rica and Panama, head the list with rates of 0.03 and 0.018, respectively. These numbers are also reflected in terms of absolute diversity, with 1598 and 1397 orchid species of Orchidaceae recorded for this two countries, respectively, the highest values in the region (Ossenbach et al. 2007). Phylogenetic studies on the evolution of the family show that both countries currently have a floristic contingent of different origins, joining the rich Andean flora with the large number of taxa from nuclear Mesoamerica, which disappear quickly in the South American flora. From a phylogeographical point of view, and the peculiarity of its geological history, Costa Rica and Panama represent a laboratory for the evolution of orchids, and a critical examination of their orchid floras is of scientific priority under both the study and conservation of biodiversity (D’Arcy & Correa 1985; Dressler 2003). Despite its geological and floristic similarities, the political boundary has affected knowledge and scientific production. A strong imbalance between the two countries is evident. In the last 10 years, about 170 scientific papers for the orchid flora of Costa Rica were published. In contrast, about 70 scientific papers were devoted to the orchids of Panama. Costa Rica has increased the knowledge of its orchid flora through the establishment of a successful research system, whereas Panama has lacked a similar process. The latest, indepth studies on the orchids of Panama took place more than 20 years ago; recent information has been produced sporadically by researchers based in other countries (Dressler 1993; Williams & Allen 1946-1949). This project is focused on the study of the orchids of the isthmus of Panama. Here we present the main objectives of the scientific cooperation between Jardín Botánico Lankester of the Universidad de Costa Rica and the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, Panamá.


The Orchid Project of JBL and UCH

The establishment of a permanent orchid research center in Panama is essential for the understanding of the flora of the southeastern Mesoamerican isthmus and its relationship with the Andean region. The Jardín Botánico Lankester of the Universidad de Costa Rica (JBL) and the Herbarium UCH of the Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí established a research center focused on the study of orchids. The main objectives are to perform a similar task in addition to that of JBL in Costa Rica and address the lack of an active center in Panama. With the adoption of an effective system of documentation of the diversity, JBL provided the methodology, information, and expertise for the long-term project on taxonomy and systematics. Essential documents and types that were repatriated in the last 10 years through agreements with other botanical institutions such as AMES, K, W, and MA are now available for the flora of Panama. The first results including scientific papers and complementary information, photographs, specimens data, and literature of the project are available at Epidendra. There are many other reasons to implement this task in both countries. Their biological potential and geographical, geological, and floristic affinities are a challenge for science. Geographical proximity allows active communication between the two institutions. The continuous development of research activities, training of students, and reciprocal staff visits are some of the advantages. Their floras are complementary, and the understanding of the species distribution on both sides of the political boundary will lead to more precise conclusions. There are still large areas botanically unexplored. One of the most diverse and least known is the Cordillera de Talamanca, where the emblematic La Amistad International Park, a World Heritage site by UNESCO, protects almost 400,000 hectares of primary forest, the largest montane forest reserve in Central America. In central and southeast Panama the mountain ranges of Bagre, Sapo, Jurado, San Blas, and Darien are critical areas to explore. The proximity of the isthmus to South America also benefits the interpretation of the Andean orchid flora and its relationship to the northern Neotropics.


Project Goals

Establishment of an orchid research center based at the Herbario UCH, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí, David, Panama.

Establishment of the Orchid Identification Center of Panama aimed to help people to identify the native orchids of Panama.

Train staff, researchers and students in orchid documentation, taxonomy and research.

Establish a widely, free accesible web database for sharing information on the orchids of Panama such as pictures, orchid types, literature, protologues and any other material produced by the project activities.

Increase the knowledge of the orchids of Panama.

Promote the conservation and sustainable use of the orchids of Panama.

Produce taxonomic treatments of the different genera of Orchidaceae present in Panama.

Publish scientific papers, books and articles on the orchids of Panama.

Involve scientists, students, orchid lovers, horticulturists, herbaria, botanical gardens and all who are interested in the study and conservation of the orchids of Panama.


Projects and activities

Fieldwork activities and exploration

Establishment of orchid greenhouses at Herbario UCH, David

Documentation of the orchids of Panama

Illustration of orchid species of Panama

Development of orchid collections at UNACHI (spirit, herbarium, pollinarium digital images)

New species and records of Orchidaceae from Panama

Taxonomic and systematic revisions of different genera of Orchidaceae

Floristic treatments in protected areas of Panama

Orchid courses on taxonomy and documentation

Agreements with other institutions, botanical gardens, orchid lovers and anyone interested in the orchids of Panama.



Checklist to the Orchidaceae of Panama

List of basionyms of the orchid flora of Panama

List of endemic orchid species of Panama


Papers published by the project:


Bogarín, D., F, Pupulin, E. Smets & B. Gravendeel.
Evolutionary diversification and historical biogeography of the Orchidaceae in Central America with emphasis on Costa Rica and Panama.
LANKESTERIANA 16(2): 189-200. 2016.

Serracín, Z., J.S.Harrison, D. Bogarín & L.Sánchez
Epidendrum adsettii Serracín, J.S.Harrison, Bogarín et L.Sánchez, sp. nov
ICONES ORCHIDACEARUM (Mexico) 15(2): t. 1569. 2016.


Bogarín D. & D. Jiménez
Lepanthes Novae Durikaenses


Bogarín, D. Z. Serracín, Z. Samudio, R. Rincón & F. Pupulin.
An updated checklist of the Orchidaceae of Panama
LANKESTERIANA 14(3): 135-364. 2014.

Bogarín, D. Z. Serracín, Z. Samudio, R. Rincón & F. Pupulin.
Un listado actualizado de las Orchidaceae de Panamá
LANKESTERIANA 14(3) Supplement: 1-31. 2014.

Bogarín, D., Z. Serracín & Z. Samudio
Illustrations and studies in Neotropical Orchidaceae. The Specklinia condylata group (Orchidaceae) in Costa Rica and Panama.
LANKESTERIANA 13(3): 185-206. 2014.


Bogarín, D., F. Pupulin, C. Arrocha & J. Warner
Orchids without borders: studying the hotspot of Costa Rica and Panama
LANKESTERIANA 13(1-2): 13-26. 2013.

Bogarín, D. & A. P. Karremans
Trichocentrum pupulinianum (Orchidaceae).
ORCHIDS (WEST PALM BEACH) 82(2): 106–110. 2013.

Bogarín, D, A. P. Karremans, R. Rincón & B. Gravendeel
A new Specklinia (Orchidaceae: Pleurothallidinae) from Costa Rica and Panama.
PHYTOTAXA 115(2): 31-41. 2013.



Project leaders

DIEGO BOGARIN, Jardín Botánico Lankester, Universidad de Costa Rica

ZULEIKA SERRACIN, Herbario UCH, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí

ZABDY SAMUDIO, Herbario UCH, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí



Herbario UCH, Universidad Autónoma de Chiriquí

Clotilde Arrocha

Rafael Rincón

Eyvar Rodríguez

Rosa Villarreal

Jardín Botánico Lankester, Universidad de Costa Rica

Melania Fernández

Franco Pupulin

Jorge Warner

External collaborators

Jerry and Linda Harrison, Altos de Cerro Azul, Panama, Rep. of Panama

Kresly Pineda, Cerro Punta, Chiriquí, Rep. of Panama

Gaspar Silvera, Panama, Rep. of Panama

Oscar A. Pérez-Escobar, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, UK