Masdevallia atahualpa


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Masdevallia atahualpa
Species Authority: Luer
Brysella atahualpa (Luer) Luer

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-02-06
Assessor(s): Chadburn, H.
Reviewer(s): Rankou, H.
This species has been listed in the Red List of the Endemic Plants of Peru (Roque and Leon 2006) as Endangered citing criteria B1ab(iii). It was not found within protected areas and there are undoubtedly threats to the habitat within its range from deforestation with the expansion of agriculture. This would lead to a decline in the extent and quality of habitat. It is difficult to calculate the extent of occurrence (EOO) as only two herbarium specimens with suggested locality were found. Although there is some uncertainty about specific locality detail the number of locations is inferred to be less than five. It seems likely that the area of occupancy (AOO) approaches, and seems likely to fall below, the 500 km2 threshold and this would lead to an Endangered rating. It is, therefore, with these inferences, assessed as Endangered. However, further surveys are needed to establish the current population status and geographic range to verify this rating.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This orchid has been found in Amazonas Province in Northern Peru. Only two specimen collections were found both from the southern part of the Province in the Leimebamba-Balsas and Chachapoyas Districts.
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The current population status of this species is not known.
Population Trend: Unknown

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This is a large tufted epiphytic orchid. It is reported to prefer cool growing conditions (Gerritsen and Parsons 2005) and to be found at an altitude of 3,000-3,100 m asl (Roque and Leon 2006).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is grown by orchid enthusiasts and may be subject to collection from the wild.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The areas where this species has been recorded are subject to agricultural development and forest reduction. The high recorded altitudes for this species may afford it some protection. However, felling for timber may possibly pose threats to this epiphytic orchid. It is also possible that it may be subject to collection from the wild as it is grown by orchid enthusiasts and such collection has been known to occur with other orchid species in Peru (Tasker 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The specimen collections that were found were not made from within protected areas. It is recommended that new areas for protection are identified and existing areas extended. This species is, however, listed in appendix II of CITES, intended to give protection from trade incompatible with species survival in the wild. Further research is needed into the ecology and habitat requirements of, and specific threats to, this orchid to determine its conservation needs. Surveys are needed to establish the current population status and confirm the geographic distribution. Subsequent monitoring to detect any decline is also recommended. Although cultivated by orchid enthusiasts it is not known to be held within a botanic garden and  it is recommended that, if possible, seeds are also stored as part of ex situ conservation measures. It is also recommended that further taxonomic studies are undertaken as Luer (1982) notes that this species is closely allied to many others in its section (Coriacea).

Bibliography [top]

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). 2007. Appendices I, II and III. Available at: (Accessed: 16 August 2007).

Gerritsen, M.E. and Parsons, R. 2005. Masdevallias. Timber Press, Portland.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Luer, C.A. 1982. Miscellaneous new species and combinations in the Pleurothallidinae (Orchidaceae). Selbyana 7(1): 102.

Roque, J. and León, B. 2006. Orchidaceae endémicas del Perú. In: B.León, J.Roque, C.U. Ulloa, N. Pitman, P.M. Jørgensen and A.Cano (eds), El libro rojo de las plantas endémicas del Perú, pp. 759-878. Facultad de Ciencias Biologicas, Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, Lima.

Tasker, G. 2009. The State of Orchids in the Wild Brought Home. Coral Gables Available at:

Citation: Chadburn, H. 2013. Masdevallia atahualpa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <>. Downloaded on 29 March 2015.
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