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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 IX, Number 3, July 2002

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

SEASON'S PICK: Trigonia rugosa Benth. (Trigoniaceae)

Trigonia rugosa   Trigonia rugosa   Trigonia rugosa

Trigonia rugosa, one of ca. 28 species in a neotropical genus of woody vines, is the most wide-spread species (Mexico to Colombia) and by far the most often-collected of the two in Costa Rica, as elsewhere (cf. Flora de Nicaragua, 2000). Here it is restricted mostly to dry and moist forest of the Pacific slope, reaching the Caribbean slope only in the far north. It appears to be quite seasonal, flowering (according to specimens at INB) mostly during the present (i.e., early rainy) season; ca. June--August. We have for years been wanting photos of either species in flower, and finally got some (vouchered by Hammel & Pérez 22552) while exploring on rocky cliffs at Herradura, just west of the marina of the large new hotel there with its white-sand simulacro-beach: white, like the underside of the leaves of Trigonia rugosa. Vegetatively, these plants could easily be mistaken for a species of Malpighiaceae (both have opposite leaves, interpetiolar stipules, and T-shaped hairs). The brilliantly white lower leaf-surface helps, but not all Trigonia spp. nor even all specimens of T. rugosa exhibit this feature...! Most malpighiaceous lianas have rather conspicuous petiolar or abaxial glands on the leaves, lacking in Trigonia rugosa. The small, somewhat beanlike flowers, 3-lobed, capsular fruits and seeds with long orange hairs make for a unique combination.

Trigoniaceae, a small family of 4 genera and perhaps 30 spp., can be considered sister to Dichapetalaceae in the order Malpighiales. For further enlightenment, see Peter F. Stevens's web site:

http://www.mobot.org/MOBOT/research/APweb/orders/malpighialesweb.htm#Trigoniaceae

Photo credits to Barry Hammel.

 

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