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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume VI, Number 2, April, 1999


ANNONACEAE. Collections from the Cordilleras de Guanacaste and Tilarán made by parataxonomist Petrona Ríos and Monteverde guru Bill Haber (respectively) are the first Mesoamerican records for the largely Amazonian Xylopia sericea A. St.-Hil. This material had been confused with the locally better known X. sericophylla Standl. & L. O. Williams, but differs in pubescence color and apocarp form.

ARECACEAE. The fan-palm saga continues. The latest development is considerably more exciting than the recent discovery of Sabal on the Pacific slope [see The Cutting Edge 5(4): 3--4, Oct. 1998]. During their two-week residence in the Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Gandoca-Manzanillo (see under "News and Notes"), co-PI Barry Hammel and colleagues happened upon a sizeable population of the rare and endemic Cryosophila cookii Bartlett. This sp., the largest and one of the most distinctive in the genus (infructescence, cross section of same), has also been regarded as one of the most endangered neotropical palms. Previously, it was known only from a small and largely deforested area between Siquirres and Parque Nacional Tortuguero. Monographer Ramblin' Joe Evans (MO) estimated the total population size at about 100 adult individuals, just one of which was protected within the boundaries of the national park (see Principes 40: 129--147, 1996). At Gandoca-Manzanillo, C. cookii is "supper common" in drier microhabitats throughout a substantial tract of primary swamp forest; Barry estimates that this population comprises perhaps 10 times as many individuals as the more northern one. Here, as to the north, C. cookii grows intermixed with the more familiar and widespread C. warscewiczii (H. Wendl.) Bartlett; according to Barry, the two spp. are virtually indistinguishable in sterile condition. Because the Gandoca refuge is so close to the Panamanian border, the status of C. cookii as a Costa Rican endemic is challenged. Overshadowed by all of this is the simultaneous discovery, at Gandoca, of the first known Costa Rican Atlantic slope population of the pinnate-leaved Astrocaryum standleyanum L. H. Bailey. Though best known in Costa Rica from the Golfo Dulce region, this sp. has been found on the Atlantic slope of Panama.

And, as long as we are reporting distribution records within the country, Colpothrinax is now known from three sites in Costa Rica [see The Cutting Edge 4(2): 2, Apr. 1997]. The most recent collection comes to us from Fila Chonta (see below), not far from the now famous collecting hot-spot by the Tarrazú dump [e.g., The Cutting Edge 3(4): Oct. 1996]. The population was discovered over a year ago by King of the region Francisco Morales and his ocasional serb, co-PI Barry Hammel.

GESNERIACEAE. Sometimes rediscoveries can be more exciting than discoveries. During a recent collecting trip to Fila Chonta, in the Pacific Fila Costeña above Quepos, co-PI Barry Hammel happened upon a sterile, peltate-leaved subshrub that he at first mistook for a Piper sp. Closer examination revealed that its leaves were actually opposite, with one leaf at each node greatly reduced. This and other clues led to Gesneriaceae and, eventually, to Drymonia peltata (Oliv.) H. E. Moore, a long-lost and near-mythical sp. that has intrigued us for many years. Described in 1877 from live plants grown in England and originally collected in Costa Rica by the mysterious A. R. Endres, D. peltata was soon lost to horticulture and has never, as far as we know, been refound in the wild. Barry's rediscovery of this horticulturally promising sp. may shed some light on Endres's collecting localities. Although he certainly never visited Fila Chonta, even now difficult of access, Endres may well have encountered D. peltata somewhere in the nearby Candelaria region--deforested by the turn of the century, but a popular botanizing destination in Endres's day. Drymonia peltata is now in cultivation, under the sure custodianship of Manual artist Silvia Troyo, who hopes to coax it into flower.

POACEAE. A collection made by specialist Lynn Clark (ISC) at 1760 m on Cerro de la Muerte is apparently the first Costa Rican record of Paspalum urvillei Steud., a South American sp. introduced in Mesoamerica (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras). Our thanks to Francisco Morales (INB) for this report.


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