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Amazon Rainforest Biodiversity in Ecuador

The hot moist climate of the rainforest all year long are ideal for plants. That explains why there are more plant species in the humid tropics than in the colder climate zones. More than 400,000 plant species are known to live in the tropical rainforests and biologists add new species all the time. Botanists found the greatest biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador's Cuyabeno, . Supposedly, Cuyabeno Wildlife Reserve, together with Yasuní National Park have the greatest variety of plants worldwide. These are some of the reasons why Cuyabeno has so much more biodiversity then any other Amazon park in the entire Amazon region:

  1. Cuyabeno is very close to the Andes foothills, and may have species of the lower-Andes;

  2. Slow-flowing rivers and the lakes in the upper-watersheds provide sediment-poor "black-water" ecology favorable for certain aquatic life-forms while sediment-rich "coffee and milk" colored waters abound in the Amazon.

  3. Both well-drained hills and swampy areas occur in the park;

  4. Cuyabeno lies precisely on the Equator, where seasonal fluctuations are minimal and where it rains throughout the year albeit less during the "dry season". Species that don't support several months of total drought can survive here.

Dear visitor, our website gives you info about the Cuyabeno Park, our Cofan Lodge, our Cuyabeno Loop and our Cuyabeno-Zabalo tours. Our lodge is located in the famous Cofan Zábalo village in the most beautiful Amazon park in all of South America.  Here you can find our prices. Our website has hundreds of high-resolution pictures of Cuyabeno and Ecuador, with thumbnails that open by clicking on them. If you love our pictures or find our info useful you can help others finding our pages too you can share them from the mobile menu bar with a Facebook Like

Ecuador has 2 mega parks, Cuyabeno and Yasuní, the latter certainly being accessible and with lots of low, epiphyte covered trees, you will be able to see many more plants close-by in Cuyabeno than in Yasuní.


Being so rich in species, one rarely sees single plant dominating the vegetation. That explains why flowers show up, a few jewels at the time. We are showing some pictures of flowers and mushrooms from our enormous collection for you to enjoy. We hope will be able soon to show your beautiful flowers in nature itself!


In rainforests, so little sunlight penetrates to the forest floor, that only few plants can grow there. As a result plants evolved to life high up in the tree crowns: Epiphytes. They thrive on trunks, branches, leaves and even  on top of each other. As such, every tree shapes a micro-ecosystem of its own with a great variety of species growing in it, such as Bromeliads, Orchids, Cacti, Aroids, mosses, ferns and lichens. Our naturalist guides, are well-known for their knowledge about birds and wildlife as well as plants of the jungle.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Epiphytes are common Amazon rainforest plants in Cuyabeno, EcuadorAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Epiphytes on Macrolobia are common Amazon rainforest plants in the marshes of the Cuyabeno Lake, Ecuador

Epiphytes forming diverse micro-habitats in the tree crowns.



Of the more than 2,000 Bromeliads, many thrive in Cuyabeno. Some grow on the ground, but most species are epiphytes living in trees. As often the leaves of Bromeliads wrap around their stems they may form small pools of rainwater. Some species can hold several gallons of water inaccessible to fishes. These tiny little pools provide safe conditions for aquatic fauna such as tadpoles of frogs and larvae of insects. Other critters include snails, beetles, mosquito larvae, etc. When they die, their bodies decay and function as fertilizers to the host plants. As Bromeliads  are often colorful, they're becoming more and more popular as ornamental plants. Of course you know our favorite Bromeliad, the Pine Apple.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Bromelia are Amazon rainforest plants growing at the Cuyabeno LodgeAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Bromelias are Amazon rainforest plants growing on Macrolobial Trees at Cuyabeno.

AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Bromelias are becoming popular for the homesAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Water accumulates in bromelia to form safe environments for todpoles

Many Bromeliads form little water pockets at the base of their leaves, which provide shelter for amphibians.



Orchids are the most numerous order of the plant world. In the Amazon region more than 20,000 species have been described, most of which being Epiphytes. Orchids have many different shapes and some have exuberant colors, while others are green. They have very popular ornamental plants.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Jungle flower as they decorate the Amazon rainforest plants.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Amazon rainforest plants on a Macrolobium tree in the Laguna Grande, EcuadorAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Amazon jungle orchid is one of the many Amazon rainforest plantsAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Amazon rainforest plants include the Orchids growing in Cuyabeno.

AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Yellow orchid belonging to the Amazon rainforest plantsAMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: White and Purple Orchid belonging to the Amazon rainforest plants.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Green orchids are common among the Amazon rainforest plants.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Bright orchid are very popular among the Amazon rainforest plants.

The colors and shapes of wild flowers can enthrall us.



Vines also evolved in response to the low light environment of the lower jungle. But rather than growing slow and staying small like epiphytes, vines grow along tree trunks. With the support of trunks they can dedicate all their energy to growth without having to spend their energy on heavy trunks.

As a result they can reach the light conditions of the canopies much faster. They hold on to tree trunks with sucker roots, tendrils or by winding themselves along their host tree. The word "lianas" is commonly used for thick woody vines which may grow to hundreds of meters long spreading across many tree crowns.

The Strangler Fig is a specialized vine. It is a common name for a variety of species that completely cover the host trunk; As the strangler vine grows stronger it not only covers the trunk but also takes the light of its host, which eventually dies. As the host tree dies, one will find that these trees have a hollow core at the place of the host trunk.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Liana or vine reaching for the tree crowns.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Liana or vine in the tropical rainforest are abundant among the Amazon rainforest plants.

Vines or lianas in the jungle. On the right you can see that only few plants grow on the dark rainforest floor itself.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Strangle vine or"Banyan"  is an Amazon rainforest plants refered to as figs.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Strangle Vine or "Banyan"  in the Amazon.

Different stages of strangler vines or "Banyan".



Heliconias  are conspicuous plants often with multicolored flowers common to the list of plants. Over the last decade, they are become highly valued ornamental flowers as their wonderful shapes of their bright flowers draw attention. Some flowers evolved to be only accessible to hummingbirds.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: heliconia are well-represented among the Amazon rainforest plants.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: heliconias are common Amazon rainforest plants. AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Heliconia Amazon rainforest plant.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Heliconia, Amazon rainforest plant, Ecuador

Heliconias are important in the rainforest with flowers conspicuous bright flowers.


AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Purple Amazon rainforest plant.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Flower of a plant in the Amazon Rainforest.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Red and yellow flower of Amazon Forest plant.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Yellow flowers of plants in the amazon rainforest.

AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Cuyabeno River Amazon rainforest plant.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Cuyabeno River marsh Amazon rainforest plant flower.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Amazon tributary rainforest marsh plant flower.AMAZON RAINFOREST BIODIVERSITY ECUADOR: Upper Amazon rainforest plant: Butterfly Pea

A selection of colorful flowers from our photographic database.


Coniferous trees in South America

Native pine trees are absent from in South America. The southernmost pine trees in the Americas grow in Nicaragua. South-American conifers include the Podocarpus trees, in Ecuador, in Podocarpus National Park, and in the Southern Cone of South America you will find the Monkey Puzzle Tree, Araucaria araucana. Other than those, all South American conifers, like the common Pinus Radiata in around Cotopaxi National Park, have been introduced.


Macrolobium swamp forests in the Amazon

From the Andes foothills to the Atlantic Ocean, the elevation difference is only about 300m over a distance of about 3000km, in other words an average of 10cm per kilometer. Under those conditions, seasonal flooding is very common and there are many swamps and flooded forests. One of those swamp forests types is formed by Macrolobium trees in the Cuyabeno. Macrolobium trees can grow in the semi-permanently flooded shallow zones of Lake Cuyabeno and other lakes like Lagarto Cocha bordering Peru. Shaped like natural bonsai trees, these legumes can grow in deeper water than any other tree, more than 4m deep during the wet season. In seasonally flooded forests, however, they can grow "normal" shaped trunks up to 30m tall. During the dry season, the Macrolobium groves can fall entirely dry for brief periods. Hoatzins love to browse their leaves, while their branches may accumulate epiphyte layers up to a meter thick, creating micro-ecosystems.




Other impressive tree forms


Many adult trees have buttresses for stability, while others increase their base by growing hollow trunks. Epiphytes add significant weight to trees, as they suck up lots of water that weighs down on the branches.Some species along shores and swamps grow numerous roots down from their crowns, as if they were "fresh water mangroves".





Fungi are not only the primary decomposers of the jungle, they can also live in symbiosis with trees or even be nasty predators. On the left a symbiotic fungus that has enveloped an entire tree and glows in the dark. Another fungus grows on a live tree, slowly killing it, while at the right a fungus has killed an ant and grows a mushroom from its body.




Street: Calle Las Casas, Side street: Jose Coudrin, 2 blocks above the Occidental Highway

Cantón Quito, Prov. Pichincha, Parroquia Belisario Quevedo

Tel: (++593)(02) 2 2324 4086, Cell phone: (++593) (0) 99 283 2187 Whatsapp: (++)1 304 901 0718

Download:Cofan Lodge brochure.


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