Plant research at Payamino



Dr. Jennifer Rowntree from the University of Manchester has been to San José de Payamino every year since 2006. She is a plant biologist and particularly interested in bryophytes, epiphytes and the interactions between plants and animals. She supervises student projects on plants on the Manchester field course and does research on plant-plant and plant-animal interactions.

In 2006, two horticulture students (Emily Waters and Miranda Kimberley) from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew accompanied the Manchester field course. During their time in Payamino they put together a guide to the common plants of the area, which can be can be found here.

Bryophytes are non-vascular, non-flowering plants. They are generally overlooked as unimportant, in fact they can be quite important in regulating nutrient and water cycling. To find out more about bryophytes go to the British Bryological Society webpage.

In 2007, Joanna Wilbraham, a bryologist from the Natural History Museum, London accompanied the Manchester field course. She undertook a survey of the bryophytes found in the region. A preliminary list of species can be found here. More detailed results from this survey will be posted soon.

To find out more about tropical bryophytes go to the Tropical Bryology Group of the British Bryological Society

Epiphytes are plants that use other plants as a structure to grow on. They do not take their nutrients from the host plant (phorophyte) and are not parasitic. Epiphytes are very common in the tropics and form a large amount of the plant biomass in the forest. Common epiphyte species include bromeliads, orchids and bryophytes. Many epiphytes provide unique habits that are exploited by other species, especially insects, spiders and amphibians. A number of student projects have been carried out on the diversity of arthropod species living in bromeliads and other epiphytes in the forest at Payamino.


Heliconias are herbaceous plants common to tropical South America. They belong to the family Heliconiaceae, which sits with the Banana and Ginger families in the order Zingiberales. Heliconias have conspicuous and long lived, colourful bracts and are of economic importance for the horticultural industry. The bracts of Heliconias provide a unique environment for insects to inhabit and exploit. In 2008, two students from the Manchester field course undertook a project to look at the diversity of invertebrates living in the bracts of three different Heliconia species. To find out what they discovered click here. This project is currently being developed with Alexandra Narváez-Trujillo from the Catholic University (PUCE) in Quito.

To find out more about Heliconias go to The Heliconia society webpage.

To see pictures of the Heliconias found in Payamino go here