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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
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The Cutting Edge

Volume XX, Number 2, April 2013

News and Notes | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature | Season's Pick | Annotate your copy

CELASTRACEAE.  A botanically promising site at ca. 200 m elevation along the Río Blanco, in the Pacific-slope foothills of the Cordillera de Guanacaste northeast of Bagaces, has already paid big dividends (see also under Polygalaceae, this column).  The site was pioneered by José Esteban Jiménez (see under Iridaceae, this column), whose first intriguing find (J. E. Jiménez 989, INB) has now been identified as Wimmeria pubescens Radlk., a country record (previously known from southern Mexico to Nicaragua).  This shrub or treelet may be distinguished from Wimmeria bartlettii Lundell and W. sternii Lundell, its only congeners in Costa Rica (both themselves rarely collected), by its puberulent (vs. glabrous) twigs, much smaller (0.6–1.6 × 2–3 cm, vs. 1.5–3.5 × 3.5–8 cm), obovate (vs. elliptic to lanceolate), subentire to indistinctly crenulate (vs. crenulate-serrulate to distinctly serrate) leaf-blades, and much smaller fruits (to ca. 1 cm, vs. 2–3.5 cm).  This sp. is especially distinctive for its unusual, linear juvenile leaves, present only on seedlings and young saplings; the seedlings are reminiscent of those of certain pines and other temperate-zone gymnosperms.

CLUSIACEAE.  Stopping for breakfast near Guayabo de Mora during an excursion to the Puriscal region, Manual co-PI Barry Hammel, in the company of INBio herbarium technician Isabel Pérez, strolled over to take a look at and collect a fence-row Clusia (Hammel & Pérez 26530, INB).  Wonders never cease, there's no way around it:  it has to be C. pratensis Seem., otherwise known for certain to the aforementioned clusiologist only from Panama and Sri Lanka.  This sp. is closely related to Clusia minor L., and shares with it the unusual (for this particular group of spp.) twigs with exfoliating epidermis and lack of purely staminate individuals.  Like Clusia rosea Jacq., C. pratensis is apomictic.  In the Manual Clusiaceae treatment, C. pratensis would key out next to C. minor, from which it differs by its tan rather than reddish exfoliating epidermis, flowers that lack anthers in the staminodial ring, and larger fruits.

DICHAPETALACEAE. Determinations recently received from family specialist and Manual contributor Ghillean Prance suggest two new additions to the Costa Rican flora.  According to the Manual treatment of Dichapetalaceae (2010), co-authored by Prance, Dichapetalum donnell-smithii Engl. was represented in Costa Rica only by its autonymic var.; however J. F. Morales 4625 (MO), from the Cerros de Escazú, has now been determined by Prance as D. d. var. chiapasense (Standl.) Prance, previously reported from southern Mexico to Honduras and Panama (and which, as one of those taxa that “skipped” Costa Rica, might have been at least mentioned in the Manual as expected in the country).  The genus Stephanopodium has been attributed to Costa Rica solely on the basis of S. costaricense Prance; however, two collections (Aguilar 4209, MO; Q. Jiménez et al. 1767, MO) from 0–50 m elevation on the Llanura de Tortuguero (as well as a collection from southeastern Nicaragua) have now been determined as S. gentryi Prance, previously known only from eastern Panama and Colombia.  At first we thought this might be a synonymy issue (S. gentryi being the older name), but other Costa Rican specimens (including from the Llanura de Tortuguero) were determined simultaneously by Prance using the name S. costaricense.  So both spp. evidently occur in the country, but the paucity of material with recent determinations precludes speculation on the distribution of each.

EUPHORBIACEAE.  Manual collaborator José González (LSCR) reports that he and colleague Orlando Vargas (LSCR) have identified one of José’s older collections (#7707) with 95% certainty as Caryodendron grandifolium (Müll. Arg.) Pax, a sp. otherwise known only from South America (Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil).  The specimen was found growing on property of the late Joseph A. Tosi, Jr., adjacent to the Estación Biológica La Selva.  According to José, C. grandifolium differs from the native C. angustifolium Standl. (very rare in Costa Rica, but known from La Selva) by its more densely flowered glomerules.  Because Tosi worked for at least 10 years in Peru, and many exotic spp. have been found growing on his property, José thinks it is highly likely that C. grandifolium was established there from South American propagules.  Incidentally, we checked the lone La Selva record of C. angustifolium, and can confirm that it is from a different population (in primary forest, deep in the interior of the reserve proper).

FABACEAE.  According to a recent determination by bean savant Daniel D. Debouck, Hammel 24516, from Parque Nacional Diriá, represents Phaseolus microcarpus Mart., previously known to range from Mexico to Nicaragua.  This sp. received brief mention in the Manual Fabaceae treatment by co-PI Nelson Zamora (INB) as potentially present on the llanuras de Guanacaste.  However, the site of Barry’s collection would be ascribed, in Manualese, to the “N Pen. de Nicoya.”

IRIDACEAE.  Allow us this opportunity to introduce José Esteban Jiménez, a young Costa Rican botanist who has recently burst onto the scene and is quickly making a name for himself (and who also happens to be the son of Manual collaborator and former Costa Rican congressman Quírico Jiménez).  Esteban has recently been exploring some very wet and virtually unknown savannas high on the Pacific slope of Volcán Miravalles, in the Cordillera de Guanacaste, and his collections have proven to be of consummate interest.  He plans on parlaying this work into a master’s thesis, and we believe it is a capital idea.  Right off the bat, he would appear to have a country record, arguably for a genus as well as a sp.  One of his collections (J. E. Jiménez 946, INB) answers very well to the description of Trimezia martinicensis (Jacq.) Herb., a sp. known principally from South America and the Antilles, but with a few recent collections from southern Mexico (Chiapas) and Honduras.  The genus Trimezia was first reported from Costa Rica just a few months ago [see this column in The Cutting Edge 19(4), Oct. 2012] on the basis of T. steyermarkii R. C. Foster, a cultivated ornamental that has become naturalized.  However, Esteban’s plants (which differ from T. steyermarkii in their more slender rhizomes, less ramified stems, and shorter, narrower leaves) appear to comprise an indigenous population.  Check our report of T. steyermarkii for the differences between Trimezia and the rather similar Neomarica, and also see Celastraceae and Polygalaceae (this column).

LENTIBULARIACEAE.  An aquatic herb collected in the Sarapiquí lowlands by Manual collaborator José González (LSCR) and Ana Chavarría has been identified by José as Utricularia radiata Small, a sp. never before reported from Costa Rica.  José and Ana obtained their specimen (J. González & Chavarría 11461, LSCR) in the Refugio de Vida Silvestre Tapirira, which we had never heard of but is apparently located near the eastern edge of the Llanura de San Carlos, about 10 km NNW of Puerto Viejo, to the west of the Río Sarapiquí.  Although widespread in the eastern United States and into Canada, U. radiata is rare in Latin America; the only prior reports we could find are from southern Mexico (Tabasco).  In the Manual treatment of Lentibulariaceae by Garrett Crow, Utricularia radiata would key roughly to U. myriocista, also a floating aquatic with verticillate leaves; it differs from the last-mentioned sp. by its smaller size, inflated petioles, and yellow corollas.

POLYGALACEAE.  It’s a bumper crop for Polygalaceae this quarter!  Bredemeyera lucida (Benth.) Klotzsch ex Hassk., widespread in the Neotropics and known from both Nicaragua and Panama, had never before been recorded from Costa Rica—nor had any other member of its genus.  That is, until José Esteban Jiménez obtained flowering (J. E. Jiménez 1105, CR) and fruiting material of this lianescent shrub at the same locality where he found the first known Costa Rican population of Wimmeria pubescens (see under Celastraceae, this column).  Polygala incarnata L. may also now be added to the Costa Rican flora, another exciting result of recent work by Esteban in the high savannas of Volcán Miravalles (see under Iridaceae, this column).  He collected this small, herbaceous sp. (J. E. Jiménez 922, CR) at ca. 1300 m elevation, with flowers in October.  Though extending northward all the way to Canada, P. incarnata is apparently of spotty distribution and rare in many parts of its range.

PORTULACACEAE.  MO curator Gerrit Davidse called our attention to some mystery collections from western Panama, one thing led to another, and we wound up with country records for both Costa Rica and Panama, and cleared up a a different mystery in the bargain!  While working on the Flora mesoamericana Caryophyllaceae treatment, Gerrit saw fit to reject the specimens in question from that family, where they had been tentatively assigned.  Upon seeing the material, dim memories were rekindled in our minds, and we soon realized that we had seen a very similar Costa Rican specimen that had once been identified as a member of the genus Elatine (Elatinaceae).  The last-mentioned specimen (Weston 12312; CR, L) was rejected from Elatinaceae in Garrett Crow’s Manual treatment of that small family, with Callitriche (Callitrichaceae, or Plantaginaceae) and Montia (Portulacaceae, or Montiaceae, if you must) suggested as alternative possibilities.  Armed with that information, Gerrit was quickly able to determine the much better Panamanian material as Montia fontana L., a sp. that is widespread throughout the New World (and in the Old World as well) but which had never been found between Mexico and Colombia.  All parties involved are now in agreement that the Costa Rican specimen is conspecific with the Panamanian collections and thus also represents M. fontana.  What we have here is actually more than a sp. record for Costa Rica and Panama:  Montia is a genus new to the Mesoamerican flora!  The Weston specimen was collected at some unspecified elevation on the “lower south slope of Cerro Urán,” a peak of 3610 m elevation on the Continental Divide northwest of Cerro Chirripó (we assume “south slope” to mean “vert. Pac.”).  However, this inconspicuous sp. is likely more widespread at high elevations in the Costa Rican portion of the Cordillera de Talamanca; the Panamanian specimens were collected very near the Costa Rican border, northwest of Cerro Echandi (at 3000–3100+ m).


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