Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. By many measures it is ranked second in this category, lagging behind only nearby Brazil. It covers an area of 440,831 square miles. Colombia's landscape is made up of a variety of ecoregions that support diverse vegetation. The nation is home to over 40,000 plant varieties. Approximately 10% of the world's plant species are found in Colombia. The nation also has the highest number of native species. Some of the native plant species include Encenillo Tree, Palma de Cera, Pekea Nut Tree, and Marmalade Bush.
Encenillo Tree (Weinmannia tormentosa)
The Encenillo Tree (Weinmannia tormentosa) is a tree native to the Andean mountainous regions of Colombia. It grows to an average length of 15 to 25 meters, has tiny light green leaves and produces creamy white flowers. Encenillo Tree mainly grows in altitudes of 2500 to 3000 meters. The plant is drought-tolerant. Encenillo Tree is useful in the leather industry where it is used as a tanning substance that gives leather the beautiful shine. It is also used for timber production. Lastly, the plant is used in the traditional preparation of cheese.
Flor de Mayo Orchid (Cattleya trianae)
The Flor de Mayo Orchid (Cattleya trianae) is a tropical plant belonging to the orchid family. The plant is native to Colombia. It grows to an average length of 30 feet, has leathery leaves and fragrant flowers. The plant can be found at altitudes of 1500 to 2000 meters above sea level. Flor de Mayo Orchid was selected as Colombia's national flower in November of 1936. Due to rapid development in Colombia, some of the plant's habitats have been destroyed. As a result, Flor de Mayo Orchid is classified as an endangered species.
Palma de Cera (Ceroxylon quindiuense)
The Palma de Cera (Ceroxylon quindiuense) is a palm tree native to the mountainous regions of the Andes in Colombia. It grows to a height as high as 60 meters. It has a smooth cylindrical trunk that is covered with wax. It is found at altitudes of 2000 to 3000 meters above sea level. Palma de Cera was declared as the national tree of Colombia in 1985. The Palma de Cera has many uses by humans. Its fruits are used as feeds for cattle and pigs, the leaves are commonly used during religious festivals, and it is cut down for its wax. The plant's existence has come under threat in recent years due to overharvesting. Therefore, Colombian government implemented laws to protect the plant.
Marmalade Bush (Streptosolen jamesonii)
The Marmalade Bush (Streptosolen jamesonii) is a brightly colored flowering plant native to the woodlands of Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador. It is a perennial evergreen bush that spreads over if not pruned. Marmalade Bush has yellow, light orange and dark orange flowers that are famous for birds and butterflies. The beautiful flowers appear almost all-year round.
Protecting Colombia's Flora
Colombia's landscape is covered by a variety of plant species. Its numerous native species have survived throughout the ages despite their vulnerability and restricted habitats. In recent years, some of the plants have come under threat due to the destruction of their habitat, unsustainable use, and introduction of new competing species. The Colombian government has laws to protect the endangered plant species. Campaigns have also been raised to educate people on the importance of conserving trees.