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Gazetteer of Costa Rican Plant-Collecting Locales

Proyecto Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica


This compilation attempts to account for all important plant-collecting localities within Costa Rica, especially those of historically prominent collectors. Recent collecting localities, especially those (e.g., of INB and MO collectors) already accompanied by very precise label data including coordinates, have been less aggressively incorporated.

Each entry may include the following information (using the indicated syntax and typography):

Name of site. Important collectors. Elevation (SLOPE), PROVINCE, Cantón: Topographic quadrangle, coordinates. Brief description and/or comments.

However, not all of these information fields will be occupied in every case; in particular, collector names are often omitted, and cantón names are provided very irregularly.

Additional remarks regarding the information content:

  • Name of site. Site names are listed alphabetically, with the following qualifications: articles (El, La, Las, Los), though listed ahead of the nouns they modify, are ignored for alphabetizing purposes (example: "La Castilla" is so listed, but alphabetized under "C"); in compound place names, generic terms of natural features (Cerro, Río, Volcán, etc.) are subordinated to proper names, unless the generic term is an integral part of a town name (examples: Cerro de La Carpintera will be found as "La Carpintera, Cerro de" [alphabetized under "Ca"], and Río San Juan as "San Juan, Río;" however, the town of "Río Naranjo" will be listed as such and alphabetized under "R," and the town of "Cataratas de San Ramón" will be so listed under "C"); in compound town names, generic terms for settlements (Ciudad, Colonia, Puerto, Villa) are subordinated to proper names, unless followed only by an adjective (examples: Ciudad Neily will be found under "Neily, Ciudad" Puerto Quepos under "Quepos, Puerto" and Villa Colón under "Colón, Villa"; however, "Puerto Viejo" is so listed and alphabetized).
  • Parts of place names that are sometimes or often omitted are included in parentheses, e.g.: "La Chonta (Laguna de)."
  • Multiple localities with the same name are distinguished by Arabic numerals in square brackets, e.g.: "Blanco, Río [1]," "Blanco, Río [2]," etc. This device permits unambiguous reference to each individual locality. Numerals are prioritized primarily according to province (in alphabetical order), and secondarily according to latitude (north to south). Thus, if a particular place name were represented by multiple occurrences in each province, the northernmost locality in Prov. Alajuela would be listed first ([1]), while the southernmost locality in Prov. San José would come last.
  • Collectors. Collectors known to have prepared specimens at a particular site are listed in alphabetical order (with only the name of the principal collector indicated). This information is far from comprehensive, being most nearly so for historically significant collectors.
  • Elevation. Elevation is provided in meters, as taken from the most recent edition 1:50,000 (unless otherwise indicated) topographic map. These figures may differ significantly from the elevations given on collectors' labels (which are sometimes rather grossly in error). Elevations of housing clusters ("caseríos"), hamlets, towns, and cities are generally taken from a point (a benchmark, if available) as close to the center as possible; elevations of peaks, islands, peninsulas, points, etc. are from at or near the summit or highest point (which is not necessarily where particular collections have been made); elevations of rivers or roads are generally from the section from which most collections have been made, or else a range is given; elevations of lakes reflect the average shoreline.
  • Slope. (A)=Atlantic slope; (CD)=Continental Divide; (P)=Pacific slope.
  • Cantón. Occasionally, the cantón name is listed (after the province name). There has been no systematic effort to incorporate cantón names.
  • Quadrangle. The name of the Instituto Geográfico 1:50,000 (unless otherwise indicated) topographic quadrangle on which the particular site (or most of the lake, town, river, etc., or the summit of the peak) appears is provided. Phrases such as "not found on current maps" refer specifically to these maps.
  • Coordinates. Coordinates, usually rounded to the nearest half minute, are taken from 1:50,000 topographic maps (unless otherwise indicated). The coordinates correspond to the indicated elevation.
  • Comments. These may include a brief description or other informative remarks about the site. Rivers and streams (quebradas) are characterized as either flowing to the sea, or as tributaries of some other river or stream. The nomenclature used for rivers and streams follows the topographic maps (except where otherwise noted), not common sense. It is not uncommon in Costa Rica for the lower portion of a river (nearest the ocean) to have a different name than the upstream (montane) portion (cf. especially the Ríos Grande de Térraba, Matina, Parrita, Sixaola, and Tusubres). However, peculiar name changes may also occur in other situations (cf. Río Jabillos). We have left some notes for ourselves in square brackets.

This compilation is now, and shall always be, a work in progress. We hope that botanists concerned with Costa Rica will put this to heavy use, and keep track of any omissions or errors they may encounter and communicate these to us (with collector name and other pertinent data). Entries that appear with no data at all; generally correspond to localities that we have been as yet unable to pinpoint, and for which we are especially desirous of information. Some locality names gleaned from literature sources may prove to be transcriptional errors from the original label data.


  • BARTRAM, E. B. 1928. Costa Rican mosses collected by Paul C. Standley in 1924–1926. Contr. U. S. Natl. Herb. 26: 51–114.
  • CALVERT, A. S., & P. P. CALVERT. 1917. A year of Costa Rican natural history. New York: Macmillan Co.
  • CARRIKER, M. A., JR. 1910. An annotated list of the birds of Costa Rica including Cocos Island. Ann. Carnegie Mus. 6:314–951.
  • CONSTENLA UMAÑA, A. & E. S. MAROTO ROJAS. 1986. Leyendas y tradiciones borucas. 2. ed. San José: Edit. Univ. Costa Rica.
  • CHINCHILLA VALENCIANO, E. 1987. Atlas cantonal de Costa Rica. San José: Inst. de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal.
  • DODGE, C. W. 1933. The foliose and fruticose lichens of Costa Rica. I. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 20: 373–467.
  • DURAND, T. 1891. Quelques mots sur les Plantae costaricenses exsiccatae. Bull. Soc. Roy. Bot. Belgique sér. 2, 30(1): 41–48.
  • GAGINI, C. 1989. Diccionario de costarriqueñismos. 5 ed. San José: Edit. Costa Rica.
  • LEÓN, J. 2003. La exploración botánica de Costa Rica en el siglo XIX. Pp. 129–185 in, G. P. Huertas (compiler), Ciencia y técnica en la Costa Rica del siglo XIX. San José: Edit. Tecnol. Costa Rica.
  • NORIEGA, F. F. 1904. Diccionario geográfico de Costa Rica. San José: A. Alsina.
  • PITTIER, H. 1892. Viaje de exploración al Río Grande de Térraba. Anales Inst. Fís.-Geogr. Mus. Nac. Costa Rica 3: 57–106.
  • _____. 1893. Nombres geográficos de Costa Rica. I. Talamanca. Anales Inst. Fís.-Geogr. Mus. Nac. Costa Rica 6: 93–107.
  • SALGUERO, M. 1985. Cantones de Costa Rica. San José: Edit. Imediex.
  • TONDUZ, A. 1893. Exploraciones botánicas efectuadas en la parte meridional de Costa Rica. San José: Tip. Nacional.
  • TRISTÁN, J. F. 1966. Baratijas de antaño. San José: Edit. Costa Rica.
  • WERCKLÉ, C. 1909. La subregión fitogeográfica costarricense. San José: Soc. Nac. Agric. Costa Rica.

This page was revised 09/18/11.


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