Discovering Quito's Biodiversity: Flora and Fauna of Ecuador's Capital
Quito, Ecuador, often called the “Land of Eternal Spring,” is a city known for its rich history, stunning architecture, and breathtaking Andean landscapes. But beyond the bustling streets and colonial charm, Quito is also home to a remarkable array of flora and fauna. In this blog, we’ll take a journey through this vibrant city, exploring both endemic and non-endemic species, and where you can observe them in their natural habitats.
Flora that can be found in Quito
1. Bromeliads (Tillandsia spp.)
These unique epiphytes are often found clinging to trees and rocks in the cloud forests and high-altitude regions around Quito. Explore places like the Mindo Cloud Forest and Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve to witness their fascinating forms.
2. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
While not native to Ecuador, these fast-growing trees have been introduced and can be seen in various parts of Quito. You might encounter them in parks and open spaces, like Parque Metropolitano in the city.
3. Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Native to Mexico but widely cultivated in Quito, Poinsettias are often associated with Christmas and can be found in gardens, homes, and public spaces during the holiday season.
4. Orchids (Various Genera)
Ecuador is renowned for its orchid diversity. In Quito, the Botanical Garden of Quito is an excellent place to observe a wide variety of orchids, both native and non-native.
Fauna that can be found in Quito
1. Andean Spectacled Bear (Tremarctos ornatus)
The only bear species native to South America, this charismatic animal can be observed in the surrounding Andean forests. The Maquipucuna Reserve is an excellent place to look for them.
2. Yellow-Tailed Woolly Monkey (Oreonax flavicauda)
These critically endangered monkeys are native to the cloud forests of western Ecuador. To witness them, consider a visit to places like Mindo, Bellavista, or Mindo-Nambillo Reserve.
3. American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)
Although found throughout the Americas, the American Kestrel is a common sight in Quito. You can spot them perched on telephone wires or hunting for prey in open fields within the city.
4. Sword-Billed Hummingbird (Ensifera ensifera)
These impressive birds are native to the Andes and can be spotted in several places in and around Quito. The Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve is a great location for birdwatchers.
5. Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
These small herons have adapted well to human habitation and are often seen foraging for insects near grazing livestock in the city’s outskirts.
Where to Observe Flora and Fauna in Quito
1. Parque Metropolitano
This expansive urban park within the city is an excellent place to spot non-endemic flora and fauna. You can find a variety of plants, birds, and small mammals.
2. Jardín Botánico de Quito (Botanical Garden)
A haven for plant enthusiasts, this botanical garden showcases an extensive collection of native and non-native flora, including diverse orchid species.
3. Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve
Located just outside of Quito, this volcanic crater offers an opportunity to observe a variety of wildlife, including hummingbirds and orchids, amid stunning landscapes.
4. Mindo Cloud Forest
About a two-hour drive from Quito, Mindo is a prime destination for observing endemic and non-endemic species in a lush cloud forest environment.
5. Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve
Similar to Mindo, Bellavista offers a fantastic cloud forest experience and the chance to spot unique plant and animal life.
In conclusion, Quito, Ecuador, isn’t just a vibrant urban center but also a place where you can immerse yourself in the remarkable biodiversity of the Andes and surrounding regions. From high-altitude páramo ecosystems to lush cloud forests, the city and its outskirts offer a diverse range of flora and fauna, both endemic and non-endemic. Whether you’re an avid naturalist or a curious traveler, Quito’s rich biodiversity promises a unique and enriching experience. Don’t miss the chance to explore the hidden gems of nature within this captivating city.