Orchids Discovered in Colombia Will Have Names in Honor of Francia Márquez and Petro

Two new species of orchids from the central Andes of Colombia will bear the scientific names Pleurothallis franciana and Pleurothallis petroana in homage to Gustavo Petro, President, and Francia Márquez, Vice President of Colombia.

Pleurothallis petroana and Pleurothallis franciana

Photos: Mario Sierra Ariza

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Orquídeas descubiertas en Colombia tendrán nombres en honor a Francia Márquez y Petro

Mario Sierra-Ariza, a researcher from the University of Tolima, with a degree in Natural Sciences and Environmental Education, described two new species of orchids in Colombia. This discovery was recorded and published in the Lankesterian Journal of the Lankester Botanical Garden, a scientific publication specializing in orchids. The newly recorded flowers were found on botanical expeditions in 2019 and 2022.

Pleurothallis franciana and Pleurothallis petroana belong to the genus Pleurothallis, the second-largest species in orchids. It is estimated that there are around 528 species in this genus, since several have been discovered and recorded in the last two years. Of these, 236 are found in Colombia, making it the neotropical country with the largest number of species.

Why were they named in honor of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez?

When a new species is found, a diagnosis of its distribution is made and its characteristics are described. In addition, a name must be assigned to it, which often responds to the surname of the person who discovered it or to the area where it is located. However, in this case, the researcher wanted to pay tribute to the Colombian leaders for their commitment to the environment. Thus, the etymology of the chosen names is thus described in the publication:

  • Pleurothallis franciana: "Named in honor of Francia Elena Márquez Mina, Vice President of the Republic of Colombia (2022-2026), social leader, environmental activist and winner of the Goldman Prize (2018), her work has been of vital importance in social struggles of Colombia. She developed activities to support the conservation of rivers, customs, and the territory of the Afro-Colombian people. She is a tireless fighter against indiscriminate mining".
  • Pleurothallis petroana: "In honor of Gustavo Francisco Petro Urrego, President of the Republic of Colombia (2022-2026), in commemoration of his political career; winner of the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award (2007); tireless defender of social causes and interested in caring for the environment and mitigating climate change".
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The Pleurothallis franciana is a plant from 4 to 12 centimeters high , it stands out for its reddish purple colors, with certain yellow tones and black dots. It also has a very striking lip (part of orchids, similar to a petal, which stands out the most), since it resembles the shape and texture of a tongue. It was located near the city of Ibagué. For its part, the Pleurothallis petroana plant has a height of 15 to 26 centimeters. It has some tones between yellow and reddish, and its labellum has villi. It was found in the municipality of Villahermosa, Tolima.

What other prominent people have species in their honor?

It is not the first time that a species has been named after a famous or recognized person. Also in Colombia, the beetle Oxyelitrum nairoi is named after the cyclist Nairo Quintana, the jumping spider Maeota ibargueni was named as a tribute to the Olympic athlete Caterine Ibargüen and the wasp Aleiodes shakirae is named after Shakira's hip movement. , which resembles the way this animal twists its abdomen. In 2020, two species of birds were named chamí and muisca, in Risaralda and Cundinamarca, as a tribute to the respective indigenous communities.

On the political scene, a beetle that inhabits the Valparaíso region was registered in 2018 under the name Aspidolobus sebastianpinerai, in recognition of former Chilean President Sebastian Piñera. Likewise, in the United States Barack Obama has a species named in his honor. This is caloplaca obamae, a type of crustose lichen found in California. George Bush also has a type of beetle called the Agathidium bushi.

This list is extended by numerous scientists, artists, actors, athletes, revolutionaries, and celebrities of all kinds such as Paul McCartney, Miles Davis, Beyoncé, Bob Marley, Goethe, Che Guevara, Ozzy Osbourne, Lady Gaga or Harrison Ford.

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