Cloud Forests: Orchids in the Wild

I’ve been enchanted by montane cloud forests since my first visit to a cloud forest in Ecuador over seven years ago. I still remember walking up the shrouded trail and seeing colorful orchids hanging above me like a living chandelier. Since that time, I’ve been fortunate to visit cloud forests in Peru, Costa Rica, Madagascar, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I have often planned entire trips around visits to these special ecosystems.

On January 15th, I had a solo photo exhibit open at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri. The exhibit, called “Cloud Forests: Orchids in the Wild,” features images from cloud forests around the world and it is part of an ongoing passion project that I’ve been working on for almost six years. The exhibit features 18 large prints, many of which are 30 x 40 inches. The images were adjusted by my father, Paul Salazar, and printed by My Kolors printing in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I had to prepare the exhibit while I was abroad in Mauritius, so I was very grateful for their help.

Since the images of the exhibit show the prints far away, here is a small gallery of some of the images featured in the exhibit and some of my other cloud forest favorites. I hope they show just how rich and special these forests are.

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Exhibit panel text: 

Tropical cloud forests are as enchanting as they are rare. Almost continuously shrouded in mist, these high-elevation rainforests cover less than 0.14% of the world’s land surface. It is the high moisture content in the air that makes these forests so unique: the humidity fosters the growth of incredible plant communities, including an astonishing diversity of wild orchids. Many cloud forest species are found nowhere else on Earth, and these fragile ecosystems are threatened by deforestation and climate change.

Exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden

Exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden


Cloud forests are critically important ecosystems. They are like sponges – they pull water out of the air and that water drips to the ground, feeding rivers at lower elevations. In Peru and Ecuador, cloud forests in the Andes help feed the Amazon River. They are a critical part of the water cycle and are also home to many incredible species that are found nowhere else on Earth.

If these images inspire you to visit a cloud forest, one of easiest places to get to from the United States is Costa Rica’s famous Monteverde cloud forest: Bring binoculars!

Exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden

Exhibit at Missouri Botanical Garden

Gabby One

Me in front of one of the exhibit walls. Photo by Burt Remis

To see more of my cloud forest images, please visit my website: Cloud Forest Gallery.



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