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Volume XXVII, Number 2, April 2020
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CACTACEAE. To our knowledge, the common Pitahaya of Costa Rica, Selenicereus costaricensis (F.A.C. Weber) S. Arias & N. Korotkova, had never been collected from the Caribbean slope here—until January of this year, when Manual co-PI Barry Hammel (MO) found it growing, sometimes abundantly, in trees along the Río Frío and at the borders of the wetlands it drains in the Caño Negro reserve (see under “Season’s Pick). The find is not surprising, given that the sp. is known just across the border in Nicaragua (from both Isla La Venada and Isla Zapote), and also given the relative isolation of this beautiful wetland reserve and our few collections from there. The plants seen were all sterile, but are duly vouchered (Hammel et al. 27741, CR; Hammel 27751; CR) and with cuttings in pots at the collector’s house (Finca Las Disyuntas) in the Valle Central.
MELIACEAE. Spurred by an inquiry from Willow Zuchowski (of Monteverde fame), Manual co-PI Barry Hammel (MO) reinvestigated the distribution of Carapa guianensis Aubl. in Costa Rica. That name had long been used for all the material of its genus in the country, but was restricted in the Manual Meliaceae treatment (2007) to a sp. that is quite rare in Costa Rica, where most populations correspond to C. nicaraguensis C. DC. Using Robles et al. 2057—one of just two Costa Rican collections of C. guianensis sensu stricto previously known to exist—as his "Rosetta stone," Barry was able to tentatively determine two additional specimens from Tiquicia as representing that entity: Huber & Weissenhofer 120, a sterile treelet from the Golfito region; and W. D. Stevens 23793, a sterile sapling (with fruits from a larger tree harvested off the ground) from the Barra del Colorado region. The latter station is in keeping with the previously known distribution of the sp. in Costa Rica, but the former would extend its range onto the Pacific slope. Incidentally, David Kenfack (US), who authored the Manual account of Carapa, never published his 2008 thesis (which contains a revision of the genus), nor is it even available in the MO library (despite the fact that David was a student here in St. Louis); thus, as far as we know, the Manual remains the only effective and readily available publication in which his careful and informed distinction between C. guianensis and C. nicaraguensis has been revealed.
PIPERACEAE. Early on, we satisfied ourselves (based on field work at the Estación Biológica La Selva) that the concept of Peperomia serpens (Sw.) Loudon espoused by William C. Burger (F) in his Flora costaricensis Piperaceae account (1971) was excessively broad. We could easily discriminate two distinct entities, to which the names Peperomia pseudocasaretti C. DC. and P. urocarpa Fisch. & C. A. Mey. were eventually applied by Manual Piperaceae author Ricardo Callejas (HUA). Now we learn, via correspondence with Peperomia maestro Guido Mathieu (GENT), of addtional developments in what may perhaps be termed the "Peperomia serpens" complex. First, according to Guido, Peperomia urocarpa, in the sense of its type, is restricted to South America; most of the Mesoamerican material that has been so identified actually corresponds to P. urocarpoides C. DC. Second, Peperomia donnell-smithii C. DC. represents a distinct sp. that is endemic to Costa Rica. Rather unsettlingly (at least for us), both of Guido's Peperomia urocarpa segregates (P. donnell-smithii and P. urocarpoides) occur at La Selva, according to the list of vouchers that he supplied. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how the two spp. are distinguished, and thus cannot evaluate these concepts. Both names (Peperomia donnell-smithii and P. urocarpoides) were synonymized under P. urocarpa in the Manual, and will continue to be so treated in the impending Flora mesoamericana Piperaceae volume, also authored by Ricardo. We also learned (via an article sent by Guido) that the otherwise Andean (Colombia to Bolivia and Venezuela) Peperomia microphylla Kunth is now known from Costa Rica, on the basis of a specimen to be cited in Flora mesoamericana: Burger 2173 (F). That specimen is not duplicated at MO or (so it seems) in Costa Rica, so we are presently unable to provide more detailed information concerning the distribution or phenology of P. microphylla in Mesoamerica.