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The Cutting Edge
Volume XV, Number 1, January 2008
News and Notes |
Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature |
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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
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.