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Splendor at the highest heights

High in the Itatiaia mountains in Rio de Janeiro, more than 2,000 meters above sea level, the brightly colored flowers of the Buddleja speciosissima demand attention. So much so that its name is derived from the word speciosa, which is Latin for splendid or spectacular. It also attracted the attention of botanist Ruy Alves, who investigates high altitudes and has been unable to find the species anywhere else. He explains that Brazil has relatively few high mountains, and almost no one goes to their summits. “I am the opposite,” says the researcher, who explores these areas around the world and has found that the same basic ecological principles govern these ecosystems across different continents.

Image submitted by Ruy José Válka Alves, professor and curator of the herbarium at the UFRJ National Museum