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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 XV, Number 1, January 2008

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

ARECACEAE.  Here is a leap backward:  during his visit to INB last summer, Manual co-PI (and Arecaceae contributor) Mike Grayum determined two specimens collected in westernmost Panama on a Darwin Initiative expedition [see The Cutting Edge 13(3): 2, Jul. 2006] as Chamaedorea undulatifolia Hodel & N. W. Uhl, previously regarded as a Costa Rican endemic.

CONVOLVULACEAE.  Ipomoea aquatica Forssk., an Old World native esteemed (particularly in Asian cuisine) as a potherb (“water spinach”), was reported in Standley’s Flora of Costa Rica (under the synonym I. reptans Poir.) as naturalized in the Caribbean lowlands of Costa Rica.  Despite this, the sp. had received only honorable mention in Manual co-PI Barry Hammel’s draft treatment of Convolvulaceae, as no actual specimens had been found.  Now I. aquatica will be accorded full inclusion, as Barry himself has just collected it growing adventively in pastures around Montezuma, near the tip of the Península de Nicoya, and even in the very center of town.

FABACEAE/FABOIDEAE.  Nelson Zamora, deeply involved with both the Manual and the La Selva florula project, reports his discovery, at the last-mentioned locale, of Ormosia amazonica Ducke (Zamora 4044).  Although known from a few other scattered sites on the Atlantic slope of Costa Rica, it has not been found previously at the Estación Biológica La Selva (where the only known individual is near death).  The use of the name O. amazonica for Costa Rican material is tentative, as all collections from the country to date are sterile.

FABACEAE/CAESALPINIOIDEAE.  Three years and counting into his effective retirement from active field work, Gerardo Herrera continues to strike botanical gold.  His #4801, collected in 1990 on the Península de Osa, is the first Mesoamerican collection of Bauhinia altiscandens Ducke, previously known only from Amazonian Peru and Brazil.  According to Manual co-PI and Fabaceae contributor Nelson Zamora, B. altiscandens has been confused (and sometimes synonymized) with the widespread B. guianensis Aubl., from which it differs inter alia in its generally undivided leaves and narrower petals.

MELASTOMATACEAE.  Even with our latest Manual volume still warm from the presses (see “Hammel et al.” entry under “Germane Literature”), the long, agonizing process of obsolescence kicks in.  The ball gets rolling with an early report from the recent Darwin Initiative venture to Fila Matama (see under “News and Notes”).  Project co-coordinator Daniel Santamaría (INB) announces the first Costa Rican records for Topobea arboricola Almeda, previously considered restricted to the western half of Panama, based on five collections so identified by Manual Melastomataceae co-contributor Ricardo Kriebel (SFSU).

ORCHIDACEAE.  INB curator Francisco Morales provides three new orchid records for Costa Rica, based partly on his meticulous collecting during our recent work in the Cordillera de Guanacaste [see The Cutting Edge 14(4): 1–2, Oct. 2007].  Lepanthes acuminata Schltr. and Stanhopea saccata Bateman, both previously known from southern Mexico to Honduras or Nicaragua, were collected by Chico at 1100–1200 m elevation on Volcán Orosí (numbers 15804 and 15774, respectively, the latter sterile and flowering later in captivity).  As mentioned in the Manual, Stanhopea saccata had been attributed to Costa Rica in the literature, but with no vouchers cited; now we have the proof.  A similar case is that of Pleurothallis scitula Luer, nominally endemic to western Panama and merely mentioned in the Manual on the basis of a Costa Rican attribution by Franco Pupulin (USJ) in a publication that appeared too for due consideration.  Pupulin did in fact cite a voucher for P. scitula, Boyle 75-89 (USJ), without specifying a locality.  As additional evidence we now have J. F. Morales 15793, from 1550–1750 m elevation on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca near the Panamanian border; Chico’s specimen was field-collected in sterile condition in 2005, and finally flowered just a few months ago.  And the orchids continue to come out of the woodwork:  a mystery saprophyte collected in 1982 by Manual co-PI Barry Hammel (#11657) at the Estación Biológica La Selva has finally been identified as Uleiorchis ulaei (Cogn.) Handro, representing a new genus not only for La Selva, but for Costa Rica as well.  Seldom collected and of sporadic distribution, U. ulaei was previously known from Honduras and Panama, as well as several South American countries.  This much-delayed addition to the flora has involved an array of personalities, not all of whom were facilitators.  The entry in Barry’s field-book suggests that he may not actually have found this plant himself; legendary La Selva ecological researcher Bob (“Don Piper”) Marquis (now at the University of St. Missouri-St. Louis) probably stumbled onto it during one of his forest rambles, and brought it back to the station for Barry to press.  Although Barry’s initial family determination was spot-on, a prominent orchid specialist (who shall go unnamed) subsequently rejected the specimen from Orchidaceae, assigning it tentatively to Gentianaceae.  There it languished for 20 years in the DUKE herbarium, until La Selva flora collaborator Charlotte M. Taylor brought it to MO along with a trunkload of other problematic material.  At some point during the past several months, the specimen found its way to redoubtable generalist Ron Liesner (MO), who immediately recognized it as an orchid, and ultimately nailed the full determination (since seconded by several other parties).  And Ron ought to know, since the only other specimen of this ditypic genus is the Venezuelan Uleiorchis liesneri Carnevali & I. Ramírez!  We should admit that, while the genus determination of the La Selva collection is unassailable, the sp. may be somewhat in doubt, as Barry’s specimen (indeed, all the Mesoamerican material at MO) is in fruit, while the two Uleiorchis spp. are distinguished only by floral details.  Finally, one negative note for Orchidaceae:  Manual correspondent Mario Blanco (FLAS) reports that, during his October visit to MO (see under “News and Notes”), he identified an Ecuadorian specimen (Dodson & Hirtz 17917) as Maxillaria appendiculoides C. Schweinf., a sp. that is easily overlooked because of its very small flowers; this means that we lose another Costa Rican endemic.

SAPINDACEAE.  Hammel & Trainer 13125, collected in 1982 from the Cerros Sardinal, on the Atlantic coastal plain northwest of the Estación Biológica La Selva, has been newly identified by Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora as Cupania scrobiculata Rich.  Although widespread in the Neotropics and known from southeastern Nicaragua and Panama, this sp. has never before been reported from Costa Rica.


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