I Fooled You

I had one more photo from Costa Rica that I was saving, and it’s a cactus, of course. I wouldn’t end this series on an orchid. That would be silly.


Hylocereus costaricensis

We found this while driving through mountainous farm country. These are a good fruiting cactus, so it seem like a good plant to plant along your horse-pen fence. They’re usually epiphytic, but this one does have a root into the ground, and lots of air roots holding it onto the fence post.

Now this is a cactus to end a series on.

The Last Photo

It’s my last photo from Costa Rica.

That’s a good 3 months worth of photos from one short trip into the jungles and coastal regions and cloud forests and volcanic plateaus of one small Central American country.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. We saw a dozen cactus species, about 2 dozen orchids, a lot of peperomias and begonias, and more! Always more! Until today. No more.

Well, this is one last pretty orchid for us to enjoy.


Iluvia de Oro

Yay! I’ve identified a Costa Rican orchid!


Oncidium stenotis

And it even has a common name, Iluvia de Oro, or Golden Iluvia as my faithful translater, Babelfish, renders it.

Now, having made this tentative ID, I’m sure someone is going to contradict me. And that’s OK, I can take it.


I love the concept of the color Chartreuse, it’s not yellow, it’s green, but really, it’s mostly yellow.


Wikipedia calls this particular shade “Traditional Chartreuse”. Orchids come in so many colors, I think wikipedia should define their colors by the orchid blooms. That’s what I think. I’m totally serious, too.

Still, yesterday’s orchid was prettier.

Wow! That's a Nice Orchid!


Wow! That’s a nice orchid! So nice I had to say it twice.

I wish I knew enough about orchids to identify them. Oh well, maybe next year.

Costa Rica Manzanita

Yes, it’s a bearberry from the volcanic midsection of Costa Rica.


Arctostaphylos arbutoides ssp. costaricensis

Also known as Comarostaphylis arbutoides ssp. costaricensis

You can pick either name you prefer, but I certainly recognize those small dark green leaves, the ripe round delicious looking berries, and the unmistakable bell shaped flowers.

The journal Brittonia has this to say about it:

Endemic to the Cordillera Central of Costa Rica… at ca. 2500-3430 m. It is an important component of the ericaceous scrub on the crater rim of Volcán Irazú and is abundant in the otherwise nearly barren areas of volcanic ash. Flowering and fruiting throughout the year.

They  distinguish the Comarostaphylis from the Arctostaphylos by the

The papillate fruit surface of  Comarostaphylis unambiguously distinguishes it from the smooth-fruited Arctostaphylos.

Now we know the difference, and we can all go out and distinguish them ourselves.

Costa Rica


Epidendrum radicans

What is that plant in the background? It looks very familiar. Lets get a closer look, shall we?

Aha! I know what it is. Maybe I’ll share another photo of the plant in back tomorrow. Maybe.

Yet Another Orchid


Growing in volcanic scree at the base of Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica.

This one, as you can see, is pink. Not white, not red, not white and pink striped, but pink. I think we can definitely state that we saw a lot of variety of this orchid growing in the volcanic rock.

Do you think they’re different species? Different subspecies? Or just natural variation of flower color within the same species?

Arenal Volcano


Another lovely multi-color orchid. That red is so vibrant because of all the volcanic rock it’s growing in. There’s Arenal Volcano in the background.

And if you turn around, right there, what is it? Read More…

Pink Orchid

Same type as yesterday, same volcanic area, different color. This one is pink with white ruffles, but then you knew that since you peeked at the photo before reading this text.


They’re growing in very recent volcanic scree beds.

Just like they’ve got up in Alaska right now.  i wonder if that means they’ll be growing ground orchids this summer?

White Orchid


These are scattered around the Arenal Volcano area, and they come in many colors.

Orange and Yellow Orchid Blooms

We knew we would see lots of orchids up in the cloud forests of Costa Rica, epiphytic orchids of all types, and many of them in bloom. We didn’t know there would be so many ground orchids in the hotter and drier areas.


Epidendrum radicans is a fairly common orchid through Central America. This was near Arenal Volcano. Everyone visits the volcano. This is also extremely similar to the Epidendrum ibaguense, a hardy terrestrial orchid we are carrying at the nursery.

Closeup of an Epiphytic Cactus


Rhipsalis baccifera

Same plant as yesterday, different angle. You can really see the pendulous branches in all their forking grandness.

Mistletoe Cactus


Rhipsalis baccifera

This is the most common rhipsalis in all of Central America. We only found a couple specimens in Costa Rica. It’s a pendulous epiphyte with cylindrical forking branches. I should copyright that sentence. It’s known as the mistletoe cactus because it gets covered in little white fruits. It likes moist lowland forests, not too moist.

They’re very successful grown in hanging baskets on your front porch, preferably getting an hour or two of morning sun.

Big Jungle Cactus

Up to this point on our trip in Costa Rica we had seen only a few scraggly cactus high up in the canopy on the trails in the jungle national parks. Here we were driving along a country road through farms and over hills, and BAM there was this tree covered with jungle cacti and lots of bright red tillandsias too.


Hylocereus costaricensis

This is quite the site to see. I wonder how long the tree can survive with that much weight on it? Strong trunk, I suppose.

Epiphytic Bromeliad Bloom Stalk


Colorful isn’t it? It’s a Tillandsia. Actually, there’s more than one, but only one is blooming. There are so many tillandsia species in Central America that it would take a tillandsia expert to be able to identify them.

Don’t you wish we could have collected some from the wild and brought them back to Berkeley and propagated them and then offered them to the public? That’s what used to happen out in the world not that long ago, but no more.

Swimming in a Tank

Did I mention that we like succulent peperomias?


Peperomia palmana

This small clumping peperomia has a wonderful crown of blooms, and is nicely nestled in a verdant moss pod on a jungle branch.

If you look really closely, those tiny blooms are white.

We found this specimen in a moist mountain forest, just like it likes it. They range from Costa Rica only as far as Panama.



Peperomia hernandiifolia in bloom, at dusk.


Back in Costa Rica, we were trundling along looking up in the trees for more jungle cacti, maybe an Epiphyllum or two, some lovely orchids in bloom and all, and then boom, what did we see?


Solanum quitoense

I can’t be sure of the ID, but this fruiting plant in the nightshade family with broad fuzzy purple leaves is one of our favorites at the nursery. Technically it’s no succulent, of course, but it is drought tolerant and we’ve planted it alongside our turtle pond too.

White Flowers High Up


This orchid was way high up in the trees. I tried my best to use my superzoom lens, but without a tripod this is the best I was able to get. Not bad. But then the other shots were all way out of focus, so this was the only one that even came close.

Plus we were running from a pack of cotamundis at the same time.




This is a really large terrestrial bromeliad we came upon in the Costa Rican jungle. About 10ft. across. I think this was near the Arenal volcano when we took a side trail to find a bombax that we never found. I wonder how long that outcropping will last.

In Full Bloom Spray


Peperomia palmana

In the wet mountain forests we found this blooming plant growing as a terrestrial herb and also growing along large trunks as an epiphyte.

Beautiful thick herbaceous leaves and stunning bloom spikes that if you were to look closely you would see are covered in tiny flowers.

Terrestrial Bloom


It’s a Costa Rican Ground Orchid. It’s only like a 1/2″ across, so please don’t step on it, okay?

Climbing, Vining, Epiphytic and Terrestrial!


Peperomia hernandiifolia

I like me some peperomias. This large leafed succulent was climbing this tree and was up over 10 ft. high. They can root in the ground or be completely epiphytic, as they vine their way into the clouds.

I like this photo for its evocative shadows.



Nice Bromeliad. And it’s epiphytic too. But really, look at all that moss crawling up that tree. Must be a rain forest. Tropical even. Hot and moist.



The photos from Costa Rica keep coming, and it turns out I shot a lot of orchids. Maybe I’ll stop doing these posts from our trip every day. Maybe only once a week? They’ll last all year if I do that. Fair warning.

Anyway, this cone of flowers was about a foot tall and I counted the tiny blooms and there were 3,026.

Saturday Morning Costa Rica Orchid Blogging


We saw a lot of blooming orchids in Costa Rica last month. I have a few thousand more photos to share. Well, maybe not quite that many.

We’re still in the cloud forests of  Monteverde.



Today’s Costa Rican plant is an orchid. And there’s that wonderful yellow-green color that could lead one to call this orchid species by a name like viridis. But don’t even try, cause the orchid collectors will complain that you don’t know what you’re talking about. They do that you know.

September 2023

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