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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XXVIII, Number 2, April 2021

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

CYCLANTHACEAE.  Sphaeradenia crocea Harling is nothing new for the Costa Rican flora, but down home at the Estación Biológica La Selva it is definitely a new record for the reserve.  Based only on Reinaldo Aguilar's fine images (vouchered by Aguilar 8686, LSCR) on the La Selva Flórula Digital web site, one of us had cavalierly identified that material, back in 2004, as the related but distinctly different S. acutitepala Harling.  And those have been the only images of live plants of S. acutitepala posted on the web site.  We totally forgot about it until earlier this year, when La Selva Head of Scientific Operations (and long-ago Manual collector) Orlando Vargas sent images of a much more robust beauty that he has cultivated (from a branchfall), thinking it must be a new sp. for the station.  Of course, Orlando's concept was fogged by our error; Reinaldo's plant, found on the base of a tree trunk at the edge of the stationside Cantarrana swamp, is actually Sphaeradenia crocea, and the more robust plants are true S. acutitepala.  The cue that something must be wrong had mostly to do with the more deeply divided leaf blades (and their much narrower divisions) of the Cantarrana plant.  Hammel´s brain, however, didn't click until just a few days ago, after scoring a brief visit to La Selva to look for live plants (no such luck) and making a more careful study of Aguilar 8686 (LSCR).  In Hammel's own Sphaeradenia key, that specimen comes out easily to S. crocea, in all respects (see couplet 2).  This new record for La Selva does require a bit of tweaking to the Manual entry for Sphaeradenia crocea; Reinaldo's collection has longer leaf blades (to 64.5 cm) and a longer (to 7 cm) and wider (to 4 cm) fruiting spadix than indicated in the Manual, and comes from a significantly lower elevation (previously not known from below 450 m in Costa Rica).  There is some question as to whether the "Cantarrana" of Reinaldo's label might actually refer to the ”Zona Protectora" creek of same name, at a considerably higher elevation (ca. 200–400 m); but the label also says "alrededor de la estación," so unless Reinaldo finds something else in his field notes, we'll stick to that.

FABACEAE.  Slim pickin's are better than nothing, right?  Over the years, one of us has often noticed, but never collected until recently (Hammel & Pérez 27803, CR; vicinity of Puntarenas), an Erythrina with strikingly variegated leaflets (white main nerves on a yellow-green background) and scarlet flowers, rather frequetly cultivated in yards in certain parts of the dry to moist Pacific lowlands.  In fact, Erythrina variegata L., native to the tropics and subtropics of east Africa, the Philippines, and Indomalesia, apparently had not previously been reported or collected from Costa Rica.  So there you have it, already added to the online Manual version of Fabaceae as another of the several occasionally cultivated, exotic Erythrina spp. mentioned in the genus discussion.

MELIACEAE.  And while we´re at the bottom of the barrel, we may as well report the following vile, vulgar, and lamentable data-point.  We probably should have fully treated the Asian introduction Azadirachta indica A. Juss. (Neem, Nim), which was merely mentioned in the Manual Meliaceae treatment as being often cultivated in dry and moist forests of the Pacific slope for living fence posts and firewood.  However, a recent collection by one of us (Hammel & Pérez 27814, CR) was from an apparently fully established and self-seeding population near the beach between Montezuma and Cabuya, at the southern tip of the Península de Nicoya.  Admittedly, this population was close to a fence line with a mango plantation nearby in the background; however, it was interspersed with plenty of native spp., including the recently discovered (for this far southern part of the peninsula) Carlowrightia arizonica A. Gray (Acanthaceae), so anyone could be excused for confusing it with the native vegetation, right?  Even one of us who just maybe momentarily tried to key it out as a sp. of Trichilia (blush).  At least one other, older collection (Ronchi & Frankie 944, CR), from a "second growth area" near Bagaces, might have given us enough reason to include Azadirachta indica as an established introduction in Costa Rica.  In Manualese its distribution statement would be:

Bosque seco y húmedo, bordes de bosque, cacaotales, cercas vivas y orillas de caminos, tambien cult. en parques, 0–100(–800+) m; vert. Pac., cuenca del Río Tempisque (vecindad de Bagaces), S Pen. de Nicoya (vecindad de Cabuya), Valle Central (vecindad de El Rodeo). Fl. feb.–may. Nativa de S Asia, cult. (y a menudo naturalizada) Méx., El Salv. y Hond.–CR, Col., Ecua. y Ven., Guyana Fr., Par., Antillas Mayores, África trop. y Madag., Austral. (Hammel & Pérez 27814, CR; Ronchi & Frankie 944, CR)


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