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The Cutting Edge
Volume VIII, Number 3, July 2001
News and Notes | Recent Treatments | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature | Season's Pick
ANACARDIACEAE. Serendipity once again strikes, to keep the adrenalin flowing. Following a recent return from the peninsula, Osa botanical expert Reinaldo Aguilar produced fresh, fruiting material from a tree which he proclaimed "is not Tapirira myriantha." Reinaldo had surmised that we were using the name T. myriantha Triana & Planch. in an overly inclusive manner, and that two distinct entities were present in Costa Rica. One ( the object at hand) is a smallish tree of the Golfo Dulce region, with leaves or branches clustered at the top of the stem, somewhat as in Talisia spp. (Sapindaceae), and larger fruits than the other (the "real") T. myriantha, a larger, normally branched tree widespread in wet, lowland forests on both slopes. The coincidence? Within a matter of hours, Manual co-PI Mike Grayum, ignorant of these events at INB, sent a message itemizing determinations just returned by Anacardiaceae specialist John Mitchell (NY). Of special interest were two specimens, earlier collections of this very mystery tree with flowers and fruits, both annotated by Mitchell as "Not Anacardiaceae!" Undaunted, and stimulated by expert advice to the contrary, Manual co-PI Barry Hammel dissected the flowers and pushed a dissenting buzzer: "Is Anacardiaceae!" The peltate scales on the leaves and inflorescences of our mystery tree are otherwise unknown among New World Anacardiaceae, which alone (we think) led John to suggest we were in the wrong family. Pursuant to an e-mail and a spirited telephone conversation, John has agreed happily to take a second look at this, our most recent story-to-be-continued mystery tree.
CYCLANTHACEAE. As predicted (see R. Eriksson, Opera Botanica 126: 1—106) Panama here loses one of its endemic species of Sphaeradenia, gladly not to deforestation but to the larger good of Talamancan bi-national endemism. A collection of what is obviously S. pachystigma Harling from the Zona Protectora Las Tablas has just come to Hammel's attention. This species is unusual in that it is one of only two in the genus (the other, S. scandens R. Erikss. of W Colombia) with a long-stemmed, more or less scandent habit. We thank Manual colaborating illustrator (Arecaceae), former INBio parataxonomist/illustrator, Francisco Javier Quesada (Pancho) for the
collection, actually made back in 1996 but only now surfacing.
MARCGRAVIACEAE. This is another bit of unfinished business, but undoubtedly involves a new sp. (at least to Costa Rica) of Ruyschia, represented by several collections from the botanical hot-spot on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca, from Fila Chonta (above Puerto Quepos) to the Río Savegre drainage. These specimens do not match any sp. known from Central America, and somewhat resemble the Peruvian endemic R. pavonii G. Don. Marcgraviaceae specialist Adrianus de Roon (U) assures us that such is unlikely, and will inform us of his verdict as soon as the material (en route) arrives.