A single trail in the Río Zuñac Reserve has revealed two undescribed species of Magnolia trees, both with giant leaves and waxy flowers with thick, white petals. Fausto’s brother Luis, another Keeper of the Wild, was named a co-author in the paper describing the first Magnolia species, Magnolia vargasiana.
Lou Jost, Co-Founder of Fundación EcoMinga, says in his blog, “Both of the Recaldes earned the honour since they risked their lives to free-climb these tall trees to obtain the flower buds needed for their identification and description. These particular neotropical Magnolia (section Talauma, genus Magnolia) only flower at night, so flower buds have to be brought down and nurtured and watched until they pop open at dusk and fill our scientific station with an exotic fragrance like some imaginary tropical fruit.”
“Because of these recent Magnolia discoveries in our Río Zuñac Reserve, and the discovery of additional new species in the lowlands immediately to the east of that reserve, our tiny little region is now considered one of the richest in the world for Magnolias (maybe the richest, for its size)!”
For detailed accounts of the rangers’ roles in the discovery of these Magnolia species and their adventures in Ecuador cloud forests, follow Lou Jost on his blog here.
Support the conservation work of the Recalde brothers by donating to the Keepers of the Wild appeal and funding ranger salaries.
Vázquez-García, J. A., Neill, D. A., Asanza, M. & Recalde, L. (2015). Magnolia vargasiana (Magnoliaceae), a new Andean species and a key to Ecuadorian species of subsection Talauma, with notes on its pollination biology. Phytotaxa, 217(1), 26-34.