Inspired by King Carlos III in the second half of 18th Century, the Spanish government demonstrated a serious interest in the study of the rich floras of the colonies of the New World. The Royal expedition to Peru and Chile, led by Ruiz and Pavón, continued for 11 years in the two colonies and was followed by the activities of Tafalla and Manzanilla, who botanized in Peru and Ecuador. Two preliminary accounts of the flora of Peru were published in 1794 and 1798, but only three of the planned eleven volumes and five supplements of the Flora Peruviana et Chilensis were eventually published. The seventh volume, devoted to the Orchids, never saw the light of day. Due to the short descriptions published in 1798, and the dispersal of large parts of Ruiz and Pavón’s herbarium, the concepts of several of their orchid species remained obscure to modern botanists. These species can now be identified for the first time through the critical study of the unpublished illustrations and manuscripts of the expedition, kept at the Royal Botanical Garden of Madrid (RJB). The results in orchidology of the expedition, with a discussion of the new findings and interpretations, made possible by the study of Ruiz and Pavón’s orchid iconography, are presented in two publications. In this first part – an introduction – notes on the illustrators and their work, as well as on the orchid manuscripts and collections, are given. Orchid taxa are presented alphabetically, from Acianthera to Maxillariella. The second part will be published in the following months.
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Pupulin, F. 2012. Las Orchidaceae de la “Flora Peruviana et Chilensis” de Ruiz y Pavón. Estudio taxonómico. I. Anales Jard. Bot. Madrid 69(1): 21-79.