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Orchids & Ecuador

In early November 2017, Selby Gardens’ Director of Botany, Bruce Holst, traveled to Ecuador at the invitation of a scientific and technical institute in the nation’s capital city, Quito. Instituto Superior Tecnológico Yavirac, known at Institute Yavirac in English, named a classroom in honor of Selby Gardens for its decades of work to conserve tropical plants.


Bruce Holst at the Yavirac Institute in Ecuador, where a classroom was dedicated to Sarasota due to it being the location of Selby Gardens. Selby Gardens is recognized for its work to study and conserve the flora of Ecuador.

“Our botanical institution has a four-decade-long commitment to understanding plant diversity and distribution, with the ultimate goal of protecting species from extinction,” Holst said. “To be honored like this, most unexpectedly, is a great honor.”

The original executive director of Selby Gardens, Dr. Calaway Dodson, conducted frequent research in Ecuador in the early years of our formation. He is the author of a series of scientific volumes on native Ecuadorian orchids and the Sarasota resident is recognized in taxonomy circles for his expertise.

“Ecuador is the richest country in epiphytes per acre in the world,” Holst said. “As we build a friendship between Selby Gardens and Institute YAVIRAC, I’m sure can find many ways to reconnect our research work in this important locale.”

Yavirac’s academic coordinator, Carmen Alicia Moncayo Noroña said that Holst’s visit in Ecuador helps students understand the value of maintaining their natural heritage.

“We want to inspire students to have a vision for their country that is greater than ourselves,” Moncayo Noroña said.

While in Ecuador Holst also attended the World Orchid Conference in Guayaquil and visited the herbarium of the Universidad Católica to conduct research related to the “Flora of Ecuador” project.

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