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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 X, Number 3, July 2003

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

BEGONIACEAE. [See under Bromeliaceae, this section.]

BROMELIACEAE. Even when Manual co-PI Barry Hammel goes on holiday, his legendary serendipity never takes a break. During a weekend visit to his in-laws, Barry and significant other Isabel Pérez were poking around in remnant forest (surrounded by pineapple plantations) along the Río Cañas, near Buenos Aires in the southern Valle de El General, when they encountered an unfamiliar bromeliad, virtually sterile except for a very old, decayed infructescence. Barry was reminded of Aechmea tonduzii Mez & Pittier or Ronnbergia hathewayi L. B. Sm., morphologically similar but both characteristic of much wetter forests at higher elevations. When a subsequent herbarium crawl and literature search failed to pan out, he turned in desperation to the Manual page-proofs, where his eyes were caught by Silvia Troyo's illustration of Billbergia macrolepis L. B. Sm.-a sp. known from Costa Rica by just one collection, made over 100 years ago by Henri Pittier. Lo and behold, the description also fit, as did the locality: Pittier's collection was made in the same general area. Barry vows to return next dry season for flowering material, but this looks like a lock, and probably the first identification made using type-set Manual copy. A parallel find by Barry and Isabel, on the same trip, was Begonia guaduensis Kunth (Begoniaceae), also previously known from Costa Rica by a single collection from the southern Valle de El General; in this case, however, the prior collection is a much more recent one, by peripatetic Costa Rican ethnobotanist Rafael Ocampo.

FABACEAE/FABOIDEAE. Several years ago, Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora collected an unusual Sesbania sp. at Lago Caño Negro, on the Atlantic coastal plain near the Nicaraguan border, that he had never encountered there during several prior visits. He has now established that this material represents Sesbania exasperata Kunth, previously known from Nicaragua and Panama (as well as South America), but appearing to “skip“ Costa Rica. It is clearly distinguished from S. herbacea (Mill.) McVaugh [until recently known as S. emerus (Aubl.) Urb.], common and conspicuous in the Guanacaste region, by its wider pedicels and fruits. Also on the lengthy roster of spp. “skipping“ Costa Rica has been the tree Styphnolobium sporadicum M. Sousa & Rudd, reported from southern Mexico, El Salvador, and northwestern Colombia. Costa Rica may be provisionally added to this list on the basis of a gathering by INBio “bioprospecting“ collector Luis Acosta from the Puriscal region, on the Pacific slope in Prov. San José, along the road to San Pablo de Turrubares. Both flowers and fruits are now available, and the match is virtually perfect.

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