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Constantia cristinae is one of the only 5 species in this exclusively Brazilian genus. Considering the sizes
of plants and flowers, Constantia
cristinae is to be considered average
in the genus. It is, however, the most brightly colored species among them, making it quite desirable as a miniature.
The species was described somewhat recently, although being known for some time prior to the description. The problem
was to find the plants, and even worse to find them in flower.
When we look at the distribution map, we might not
have an exact idea of how widespread the species can be, and the fact that it has only been found in a small area
means more than anything else that there was not enough search for it. The future might prove that the species
is more widespread, but the fact that Constantia
cristinae and C. microscopica, the two more recently described species, were both found in the same area and growing
on rocks might suggest that there can be other different species to be found in the genus. The area around Diamantina,
where both species were found, is extremely vast and it is a work of many lifetimes just to check on all the rock
Distribution Map for Constantia cristinae.
The species has a very restrict distribution area around Diamantina.
||On 1, we see a
typical large clump of Constantia cristinae on a vertical crack of a boulder. So far, this is the only
way the plants grow, and these conditions provide the plants with protection from direct sunlight. The plants attach
themselves firmly to the minute cracks on the rock and thus are securely fastened. Also can be seen in this picture
that those rocks are heavily covered with crusting lichens (these whitish surfaces like paint) and also shrubby
lichens where there is more protection (incidentally, the same places as the orchids). These shrubby lichens also
help protecting the orchids from excess of light. Sometimes the plants can be found on more exposed rock faces,
but then they are usually poor growing.
On 2, we have a close-up of one of these clumps, showing the extremely fleshy leaves and round
purplish pseudobulbs. The flowers are only a bit larger than ½", and this gives a good idea of the
size of the plants.