Orchid Flora -  Bosque de Paz Biological Reserve

Bosque de Paz is a privately owned Biological Reserve located near the small town of Bajos del Toro, Valverde Vega, Alajuela, COSTA RICA. Its missions are CONSERVATION, EDUCATION AND RESEARCH. It is a special priority of the Reserve to protect the natural flora and fauna in this 1000-hectare cloud-forest environment. Its location between the active Poás Volcano National Park and Juan Castro Blanco National Park crosses the mid-to-high elevation cloud-forest life zones from 1300 to 2200 m elevation along the continental divide in the Central Volcanic Mountain Range. As such the Reserve plays a vital role as a biological corridor and is a very important complement to the Costa Rican Government's efforts to conserve its natural resources.

The costarrican González-Sotela family purchased this property in the 1980's and has devoted 30 years to reforesting of former grazing land with native tree species and protecting the large surviving areas of primary and secondary cloud forest. This property is a “hot spot” for species diversity in both the animal and plant life in Central America. To date, 351 of the 906 birds documented for Costa Rica have been observed at the Reserve. A long-term orchid inventory has also been in progress since 2004 that is demonstrating the rich diversity of orchid species found there. As of the summer of 2014, 213 orchid species have been described at the Reserve among the about 1600 for all of Costa Rica. These orchids include a charming miniature species that is new to science, Pleurothallis silvae-pacis (Karremans & Muñoz 2011).


About Dr. Stephen H. Kirby Orchid Garden

Beginning in the year 2000, Bosque de Paz has built an orchid garden where plants rescued from fallen branches and trees along the Reserve's system of trails are relocated at eye level in a small sun-lit forest near the Lodge where the orchids are easier to see and study. In this garden an average of 40 species can be seen in bloom at any given time of the year. In 2004, the Garden was officially inaugurated with the name the “Dr. Stephen H. Kirby Orchid Garden” , in honor of the enthusiasm of this geologist for orchids at Bosque de Paz and in acknowledgment of his scientific and economic support. Melania Muñoz, M.Sc., was the botanist-in-charge of the orchid garden from its founding until 2012. She has done the majority of the orchid plant collection, photography, herbarium sheet preparation, orchid flower spirit preservation, description and species identification in the Reserve. In 2013 Melissa Díaz (B.Sc. at UCR in Biology) assumed these duties until 2015. After her, Noelia Belfort (B.Sc. at UCR in Biology) has developed as the botanist-in-charge since January 2016 to date. A small field laboratory, herbarium, and flower collection exist in a building next to the garden.

About the Orchid Flora

Thanks to the effort made at Bosque de Paz to document and identify more than 200 orchid species from the Reserve, there is presently a nearly complete herbarium collection and flower spirit collection for each orchid species, detailed descriptions of all the species, high-quality photographs and scans of whole and dissected flowers, pollinaria images, and reports of pollination events. In 2011 we recognized the need to communicate this valuable and fascinating knowledge to a larger audience. Our objective is to describe scientifically this botanical biodiversity and also to show what wonders and beauty can be observed and enjoyed by visitors at Bosque de Paz. In the process we hope that this effort promotes public awareness of the need for forest conservation and preservation of biodiversity in the tropical Americas.


With the launch of this website, the general public, hobby orchid growers, and professionals in orchidology can now have access for the first time at the Reserve to professional-quality photographic images and scientific drawings of the Reserve's orchids that provide botanical details about the plants, flowers, and flower details such as their pollinaria. These details demonstrate the orchid richness of Bosque de Paz.   BROWSE OUR SPECIES



We are especially grateful to the González-Sotela family and Dr. Stephen H. Kirby for their enthusiasm and support during the development of this project. To the research staff at Lankester Botanical Garden we are indebted for their ideas and help in the creation of this online orchid flora, especially to Adam Karremans (Ph.D.) for his valuable collaboration and scientific drawings. For the identification of a number of orchid species, we happily acknowledge Dr. Robert Dressler, Adam Karremans, Diego Bogarín (M.Sc.) and Prof. Franco Pupulin, all at the University of Costa Rica's Lankester Botanical Garden and to Dr. Carlos O. Morales, from Biology School at UCR. For the identification of insects that have been found visiting different orchid species we acknowledge Dr. Paul Hanson from Biology School at UCR. MEET THE TEAM

What is in bloom ?

Beginning in 2004 at the start of this project, the Orchid Garden has been visited by the botanist-in-charge nearly every month. The species in bloom were recorded during each visit. After more than a decade of observations there is now a unique database available that shows blooming months for most of the orchid species recognized in the Reserve. Now we know not only which months have more orchids in flower, but also which months each species is in bloom. This is very useful not only as a basis for pollination research but also as a guide for tourists to know what is likely to be in bloom when in the Garden and for planning when to visit to see a particular species in bloom. SEE MORE