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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XII, Number 1, January 2005

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

MANUAL GALA. All four Manual editors were present at the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica on the morning of 26 October, when a set of the first three Manual volumes was formally presented to the Costa Rican people. The tasteful ceremony, lasting perhaps 90 minutes, featured brief but informative presentations by INBio head Rodrigo Gámez, Manual co-editor Barry Hammel, dean of Costa Rican botanists Jorge León, and Museo Nacional natural history chief Cecilia Pineda. Also spotted in attendance (please forgive any omissions!) were Manual illustrator Silvia Troyo; former Manual associates Cristina Formoso, Gerardo Herrera, Luis Flores, and Rafael Robles; current and past INBio curators José González, Quírico Jiménez (now a congressman), Ricardo Kriebel, Francisco Morales, and Alexánder Rodríguez; current and past Museo Nacional curators and associates Alfredo Cascante, Rafael Chacón, Armando Estrada, Silvia Lobo, Vanda Nilsson, Alonso Quesada, Alexander Rojas, Armando Ruiz, Joaquín Sánchez, and Julio Sánchez; Jardín Botánico Lankester curators and associates Carlos O. Morales, Carlos Ossenbach, Franco Pupulin, and Jorge Warner; and a grab-bag of other big names in Costa Rican botany, including Roy Lent, Rafael Ocampo, and Carlos Valerio. We are grateful to everyone who showed up (including several individuals whom we had not seen in many years). Refreshments were served at the end of the festivities. The event received modest coverage by the Costa Rican media, including a television interview of Hammel broadcast on the following morning.

SANTA ELENA FINALE. Manual co-PI Mike Grayum stayed on after the aforementioned ceremony to organize the fourth (and final) botanical inventory of the Península de Santa Elena, in concert with project co-PI (and Área de Conservación Guanacaste scientific officer) María Marta Chavarría. The first week of November was devoted largely to preparations for the main phase of the inventory, a two-week exploration of the outer parts of the peninsula by sea, using Isla San José (the largest of the Islas Murciélago) as a base. Nonetheless, time was found during this organizational period for botanical collecting in areas of the peninsula accessible by land from Parque Nacional Santa Rosa. Grayum was accompanied during this period by ACG field botanists Roberto ('Lupo') Espinoza and Adrián Guadamuz, together with their apprentices Kattia Araya, José Cortés, and Noemi Espinoza. This proved to be some of the most profitable collecting of the month, as many herbaceous (even annual) elements of the flora (particularly Cyperaceae and Poaceae) were at their flowering peak, especially in savanna areas and vernal pools. On 8 November, Lupo, Adrián, Kattia, José and ACG apprentice Jorge Hernández joined Chavarría and Grayum on Isla San José, where the grass-and-sedge theme carried on. Also showing up for this stage of the operation were Manual co-PI Barry Hammel, legendary ex-Manual collector Gerardo Herrera (taking a break from his lucrative position as a landscape architect), and INBio curator Francisco Morales. During our first week on the island, Grayum and Herrera, together with Lupo and Adrián, revisited the main ridge of the Cerros Santa Elena, including the second-highest peak on the peninsula (Cerro Respingue, 703 m), first reached in August, 2003 [see The Cutting Edge 10(4): 1, Oct. 2003]. They spent two nights there, while Hammel, Morales, and the rest of the crew, with carte blanche use of the project boat, throroughly vouchered the fall flora on Isla Cocinera, Isla Las Golondrinas, Isla San Pedrito, the serpentinic Isla Pelada, and several points on the mainland. On 14 November, Kattia, Hammel, and Herrera headed back to civilization, to be replaced the following day by ACG scientist Felipe Chavarría (María Marta's brother, and an old friend to one and all), incoming ACG chieftain Héctor Quesada (who happens to be an old college chum of Felipe and María), and INBio botany czar (and project co-PI) Nelson Zamora. Additional sites on the islands and mainland were visited, but the highlight of this final week of the inventory was a reascent of the main ridge of the peninsula by Morales (on the island for the long haul) and Zamora, together with Roberto Espinoza, including the first conquest of the highest peak (711 m). In the days following the ascent by Grayum and Herrera, we had sent a crew ahead to open a trail all the way to near the previously unattained highest summit. Though not significantly taller than Cerro Respingue, the highest peak is rather distant horizontally, allowing our second crew to explore new and different habitats. We were reminded that November is the best time of year in Costa Rica to find parasitic and saprophytic plants. The most important botanical discoveries of this inventory, if not of the entire project, were made during these November ascents to the main ridge (see under "Leaps and Bounds"), and all were agreed that this final inventory was the most successful and gratifying of the four (and we want to do more!). We are grateful to all who made this effort possible, including our cook, María Isabel ('Doña Rita') Vargas; stalwart porters and trail-blazers Santos Cortés (José's brother) and Dinier Méndes (now a veteran of two assaults on the main ridge); and boat captains Minor Lara (first week on the island) and Olman Ramírez (second week). Heavy burdens were also valiantly shouldered by José, Lupo, Adrián, and Jorge, and we could not have accomplished nearly so much without their hard and dedicated work. María Marta remained with us on the island for the full two weeks, playing a critical role in the logistics and organization of our daily activities even while pursuing her own limnological surveys. We all feel that we functioned very effectively as a team, with excellent results that only serve to fuel our enthusiasm to continue this work.

GOING POSTAL. We have just received the stunning news that two of our recently described spp. [see The Cutting Edge 3(4): 6, Oct. 1996], Tetranema floribundum Hammel & Grayum and T. gamboanum Grayum & Hammel (Scrophulariaceae), have been immortalized on Costa Rican postage stamps (75 and 110 colón denominations, respectively)! This discovery was made by Ricardo Kriebel's girlfriend, who went to the post requesting "everything you have with plants." According to Manual co-PI Barry Hammel, the likenesses, apparently adapted (without permission!) from our Web site, are highly stylized (with red fruits!) and scarcely recognizable as representing the indicated spp.

MOVEMENTS AT INBio. Ricardo Kriebel leaves this month for CAS, where he will spend the next two(?) years working on a master's degree at San Francisco State University under the tutelage of guru Frank Almeda. He resigned officially from INBio last month, but promises to finish his Gesneriaceae treatment for the Manual on schedule. Ricardo's handy expertise on both Gesneriaceae and Melastomataceae, as well as his infectious and highly genial enthusiasm, will be sorely missed. Occasional volunteer Daniel Solano has already been hired to fill Ricardo's curatorial positon. Also recently hired, as a herbarium assistant, was Daniel Santamaría, nephew of former parataxonomist Reinaldo Aguilar and long-time volunteer at INB. Continually globe-trotting curator Francisco ('Chico') Morales left on 15 January for a two-week tour of several European herbaria, principally BR, P, and W.

NEWS FROM AFAR. Former parataxonomist and good buddy Evelio Alfaro gave us a call on 10 December, to chat awhile and wish us a happy holiday season. We are glad to report that he is doing well in his new digs in Tampa, Florida.


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