Karl Hoffmann: naturalista, médico y héroe nacional. Edit. INBio, Santo Domingo de Heredia, Costa Rica. 200 pp.
Costa Rican/Croatian entomologist Luko Hilje delivers this attractive and diligently researched biography of Prussian physician and naturalist Karl Hoffmann (1823–1859), the second to be published since 1975. The first part of the book chronicles the history of Hoffmann’s short life, focusing on his final five years, in Costa Rica. Hoffmann arrived in Costa Rica on the same boat with his countrymen and close friends Julián Carmiol and Alexander von Frantzius, about whom many details are also provided. This section is enlivened by many well-chosen illustrations, including photos of both Carmiol and von Frantzius never before seen by us. Hoffmann’s brief time in Costa Rica was turbulent, to say the least, marked by both war (the battle against the notorious American adventurer William Walker) and pestilence (cholera and typhoid, the latter claiming Hoffmann’s wife shortly before his own early death from a rather more mysterious ailment). It is indeed amazing that, under such circumstances, Hoffmann was able to accomplish as much as he did in the comparatively genteel realm of natural history. His scientific contributions, as a pioneering collector not only of vascular plants, but of mosses and all types of animals as well, are the subject of the second part of the book. Here, the taxa named after Hoffmann are enumerated (including the two-toed sloth, several birds, a snake, a tarantula, and various millipedes and snails), along with other spp. collected by him, and the feat is duplicated for both Carmiol and von Frantzius. The third part of the book comprises annotated translations of two of Hoffmann’s articles (describing his ascents of Volcán Barva and Volcán Irazú) and a letter to a colleague in Berlin. Many color photos are provided, mainly at the end of the volume, depicting venues and spp. mentioned in the book, including many of those named for or collected by Hoffmann.
Kadereit, J. W., M. Repplinger, N. Schmalz, C. H. Uhink & A. Wörz. 2008. The phylogeny and biogeography of Apiaceae subf. Saniculoideae tribe Saniculeae: from south to north and south again. Taxon 57: 365–382.
Here’s a twist: molecular phylogenists who do not believe their own data! These cladistic analyses of sequence data resolved Eryngium, the largest genus of Apiaceae (with ca. 230–250 spp.), into two major clades: one (containing the generic type) exclusively Old World, the other very largely New World. The problem is that the moderately sizeable (ca. 40 spp.), cosmopolitan genus Sanicula appears nested within this assemblage, together with two monospecific European genera. Nonetheless, the authors “prefer to interpret [Eryngium] as monophyletic,” citing “low statistical support for at least some relationships among major groups,” together with their skepticism regarding the evolution of inflorescence characters implicit in their cladograms (e.g., that the unusual inflorescence type of Eryngium might have evolved twice). For the record, should Eryngium be upheld as diphyletic, the operative genus name for all the New World spp. would be Strebanthus Raf.
Kim, S.-T. & M. J. Donoghue. 2008. Molecular phylogeny of Persicaria (Persicarieae, Polygonaceae). Syst. Bot. 33: 77–86.
In their opening paragraph, the authors note that confusion over the classification of Polygonum “in the broad Linnaean sense...has become difficult to the point that most botanists are content to sidestep the underlying issues by reference to Polygonum sensu lato.” Count us among those who have resolutely ignored such “segregate” genera as Bistorta, Fallopia, and Persicaria. Nonetheless, if one is to accept the cladistic results of this study at face value, Polygonum cannot be circumscribed to include these “segregates” without also absorbing several other genera commonly recognized as distinct, such as Fagopyrum and Polygonella. From the spp. included in this study, we can judge that, of the seven Polygonum spp. treated by William Burger (F) in Flora costaricensis (1983), at least four belong to Persicaria in the sense of this paper, while only Polygonum aviculare L. (the generic type) definitely remains in Polygonum s. str.
Knox, E. B., A. M. Muasya & N. Muchhala. 2008. The predominantly South American clade of Lobeliaceae. Syst. Bot. 33: 462–468.
The good news, from this rather preliminary molecular study, is that Burmeistera is apparently monophyletic. The bad news is that it is nested within a paraphyletic Centropogon, in which Siphocampylus, itself polyphyletic, is also embedded. The suggestion is made that fleshy fruits, long regarded as a definitive character-state for Centropogon, have evolved repeatedly within that genus. [N.B.: the application of the terms “paraphyletic” and “polyphyletic” in this review are our own; we often do not comprehend the usages of authors in this field, though this is, to some degree, a matter of perspective.].
Kravtsova, T. I. & A. A. Oskolski. 2007. Cladistic analysis of the Urticaceae, Cecropiaceae and Moraceae (Urticales) based on carpological characters. Bot. Zhurn. (Moscow & Leningrad) 92: 613–640.
Cladistic analysis of 79 fruit characters for 55 genera in the above three families portrays Cecropiaceae + Urticaceae as a monophyletic clade that is nested within a paraphyletic Moraceae. This contradicts the prevailing Angiosperm Phylogeny Group view, in which Urticaceae (including Cecropiaceae) is an accepted family in a sister-group relationship with Moraceae. In Russian, with English summary.
Krings, A., D. T. Thomas & Q.-Y. (J.) Xiang. 2008.
On the generic circumscription of Gonolobus (Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae): evidence from molecules and morphology. Syst. Bot. 33: 403–415.
It seems like almost anything goes here, and that the taxonomy of Gonolobus, Matelea, and cohorts is likely to remain intractable for some time to come. Essentially, both Gonolobus s. str. and s. l. are cladistically tenable, as is an expanded Matelea that would include most of Gonolobus (though not the type sp.). The only caveat would seem to be that Gonolobus s. l. (i.e., in the sense of Flora de Nicaragua) would have to include the sp. now generally called Matelea denticulata (Vahl) Fontella & E. A. Schwarz.
Lavalle, M. del C., M. C. Gardella, L. Cortizo, J. Bodnar & M. Rodríguez. 2007. Implicación taxonómica de estudios morfológicos comparativos en Blechnum L. (Blechnaceae-Pteridophyta). Bot. Complut. 31: 75–85.
Based on their herbarium study of various frond and spore features, the authors conclude that the names Blechnum asplenioides Sw., B. blechnoides (Lag. ex Sw.) C. Chr., B. polypodioides Raddi, and B. unilaterale Sw. apply to a single sp., for which B. asplenioides is the accepted name. Two of these names (B. blechnoides and B. unilaterale) are illegitimate, thus cannot be used in any event. The paper confuses nomenclature and taxonomy throughout. The authors studied no types; rather, their sp. concepts depended exclusively on previous identifications, which may already have incorporated certain assumptions regarding synonymy. The circularity is mind-boggling. Robbin Moran’s (NY) Flora mesoamericana (1995) treatment of Blechnaceae mentions just two of these four names, Blechnum polypodioides and B. unilaterale, the latter as a synonym of the former.
Lehtonen, S. & L. Myllys. 2007.
Cladistic analysis of Echinodorus (Alismataceae): simultaneous analysis of molecular and morphological data. Cladistics 24: 218–239.
It is polyphyletic (who’d have guessed?), and “monophyly...is ascertained by separating Helanthium and the monotypic genus Albidella from Echinodorus.” Albidella is of no concern to Costa Rican floristics, but Helanthium (Benth. & Hook. f.) Engelm. ex J. G. Sm. is, as it includes the sp. treated in the Manual as Echinodorus bolivianus (Rusby) Holm.-Niels. A formal description is provided for Helanthium, and three spp. are enumerated, with new combinations validated for two of these, including H. bolivianum (Rusby) Lehtonen & Myllys; H. tenellum (Mart.) Britton, already available, could conceivably come into play for the Costa Rican sp. (see the discussion under E. bolivianus in the Manual). Although Helanthium is sister to the Old World genus Ranalisma, the authors resisted uniting the two (under the latter name) because “Ranalisma has quite distinctive fruits and fruiting heads, and a closer examination of the ITS sequences revealed remarkable differences when compared with Helanthium sequences.”
Leong-Škorničková, J., O. Šída, S. Wijesundara & K. Marhold. 2008. On the identity of turmeric: the typification of Curcuma longa L. (Zingiberaceae). Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 157: 37–46.
Much ado about very little, as it turns out: formal lectotypification, in conjunction with a carefully chosen epitype, maintains the name Curcuma longa L. (used in the Manual) for turmeric. Was there ever a doubt?
Liede-Schumann, S. & U. Meve. 2008. Nomenclatural novelties and one new species in Orthosia (Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae). Novon 18: 202–210.
“Anticipating the full revision of the New World genus Orthosia,” one new sp. is described and 14 new combinations are validated. The new sp. is Bolivian and, as far as we can tell, just one of the new combinations affects (potentially) Costa Rica: Orthosia guilleminiana (Decne.) Liede & Meve, based on Vincetoxicum guilleminianum Decne. For us this is really a taxonomic rather than a nomenclatural issue, as the authors employ the name O. guilleminiana (based on a Brazilian type) for “a widespread and...variable species complex distributed from Mexico to Argentina.” Nonetheless, on the basis of “eye-catching differences, many different taxa have been described covering the different regional variants” of O. guilleminiana. Our “regional variant” has been known to us most recently as Orthosia glaberrima (Woodson) W. D. Stevens [see The Cutting Edge 13(1): 11–12, Jan. 2006].
Malécot, V. & D. L. Nickrent. 2008. Molecular phylogenetic relationships of Olacaceae and related Santalales. Syst. Bot. 33: 97–106.
Cladistic analyses of both nuclear and chloroplast DNA sequence data confirm previous suspicions that the family Olacaceae is polyphyletic. Schoepfia is more closely related to Loranthaceae and Misodendraceae than to the rest of Olacaceae (see also Der & Nickrent, this column), which is paraphyletic with respect to the former three taxa as well as Opiliaceae. To judge from the cladograms, it would appear that at least four smaller families would need to be created from Olacaceae to avoid having to lump the other three families mentioned in this paragraph. No taxonomic changes are formalized here, pending “additional molecular data.” But for a preview of what is apparently to come, see the second author’s Web site:
Martin, C. V., D. P. Little, R. Goldenberg & F. A. Michelangeli. 2007. A phylogenetic evaluation of Leandra (Miconieae, Melastomataceae): a polyphyletic genus where the seeds tell the story, not the petals. Cladistics 24: 315–327.
Leandra has traditionally been distinguished from Miconia by its acute (vs. obtuse or rounded) petals, and from Ossaea by its terminal (vs. ostensibly axillary) inflorescences. These distinctions have long been appreciated as arbitrary (the authors quote such an assessment by Cogniaux, from 1891), and it comes as no surprise that the card house has begun to wobble [see also The Cutting Edge 11(4): 10, Oct. 2004]. In this study, cladistic analysis of DNA sequence data for 224 spp. of tribe Miconieae DC., including 63 of Leandra, resolves the last-mentioned genus as polyphyletic. Although “some of the clades containing species of Leandra are well defined by seed morphology characters and/or geography,” the time-honored petal-shape character “shows many parallelisms and reversals.” None of the spp. treated as Leandra in the Manual falls out in the neighborhood of the generic type sp., L. melastomoides Raddi; however, some other Costa Rican representatives of tribe Miconieae do, viz., Clidemia dentata D. Don, C. hirta (L.) D. Don, and Maieta poeppigii Mart. ex Cogn., all of which could conceivably wind up in a revamped Leandra. The authors implement no formal changes in current classification, pending “a higher density of sampling.”
Metzgar, J. S., J. E. Skog, E. A. Zimmer & K. M. Pryer. 2008. The paraphyly of Osmunda is confirmed by phylogenetic analyses of seven plastid loci. Syst. Bot. 33: 31–36.
Osmunda (Osmundaceae) comprises fewer than 10 spp., according to these authors, of which just two are sparingly represented in Costa Rica. Nonetheless, the results of this paper virtually mandate that the genus be divided in twain, in a manner that consigns the two Costa Rican spp. to separate genera. The problem is that one of our spp., Osmunda cinnamomea L., is sister to the rest of the family, i.e., all the other spp. of Osmunda plus the oligotypic Old World genera Leptopteris and Todea. One possible solution to this problem would be to lump the two last-mentioned genera into Osmunda, but the authors instead advocate the less nomenclaturally disruptive option of generic status for O. cinnamomea, supporting a recent classification by a Japanese worker. The name Osmundastrum C. Presl already exists for this genus, as does the combination Osmundastrum cinnamomeum (L.) C. Presl for its sole sp. A dichotomous key is provided for the genera and subgenera of Osmundaceae, with the only significant distinction between Osmunda and Osmundastrum being the presence of abaxial tufts of hairs on the sterile pinnae of the latter genus.
Morales, J. F. 2008.
Estudios en las Apocynaceae neotropicales XXXIV: una nueva especie de Echites (Apocynoideae, Echiteae) para Costa Rica. Rodriguésia 59: 197–200.
Echites candelarianus J. F. Morales sp. nov., endemic to Costa Rica and known only from 300–500 m elevation in the valley of the Río Grande de Candelaria, is closely related to E. turbinatus Woodson, which grows at higher elevations (1500–2300 m) in the same region and into western Panama. It differs from the latter by its conspicuously larger inflorescences, but with flowers that are smaller in all of their parts. Illustrated with a composite line drawing.
Morrone, O., S. S. Denham, S. S. Aliscioni & F. O. Zuloaga. 2008.
Parodiophyllochloa, a new genus segregated from Panicum (Paniceae, Poaceae) based on morphological and molecular data. Syst. Bot. 33: 66–76.
The genus name Dichanthelium was employed in both Flora mesoamericana and the Manual for seven spp. (in Costa Rica) that had previously been included in Panicum, e.g., by the late Richard W. Pohl (ISC) in his Flora costaricensis Poaceae treatment (1980). More recently, an important molecular study [see The Cutting Edge 10(3): 4, Jul. 2003] recommended that Panicum be restricted to the spp. ( ca. 100) comprising the autonymic subgenus, while supporting the distinctness of Dichanthelium, contingent upon the removal of several spp. The spp. to be removed from Dichanthelium formed a monophyletic group, previously distinguished as Panicum sect. Cordovensia (Hitchc. & Chase) Parodi, that appeared more closely related to Echinochloa than to either Dichanthelium or Panicum s. str. These exiled spp. are the subject of this synoptic treatment, wherein sect. Cordovensia is elevated to generic rank under the name Parodiophyllochloa Zuloaga & Morrone (something shorter would have been nice). New combinations are validated by the same two authorities for all six accepted spp., including the only two occurring in Costa Rica, treated in the Manual as Dichanthelium cordovense (E. Fourn.) Davidse and D. pantrichum (Hack.) Davidse. Includes synonymy and typology for both the genus and spp., a dichotomous, indented key to spp., Latin and English genus descriptions (but no sp. descriptions) and, for each sp., a distribution summary and representative specimen citations. Two spp. (including D. pantrichum) are illustrated with excellent composite line drawings. A (mainly) morphological comparison of Parodiophyllochloa with five related genera is presented in tabular form; Dichanthelium and Panicum are omitted from this table, but some distinctions are mentioned in the discussion.
Murdock, A. G. 2008. Phylogeny of marattioid ferns (Marattiaceae): inferring a root in the absence of a closely related outgroup. Amer. J. Bot. 95: 626–641.
Analysis of sequence data portrays Marattia as “paraphyletic” (we would say diphyletic), in a manner that spells potential trouble for at least one sp. occurring in Costa Rica. This would be Marattia laevis Sm., which finds itself in a clade far removed from that harboring the generic type, M. alata Sw. Safely grouping with the latter sp. is Marattia laxa Kunze, also represented in Costa Rica.
Ossenbach, C. 2006. Orchids in Costa Rica Part III: Rafael Lucas Rodríguez. Orchids (West Palm Beach) 75: 198–205.
There’s a lot to know about the late Rafael Lucas Rodríguez (1915–1981), one of the most important figures in Costa Rican biology, and a man of diverse interests and talents. The highlights of his life were recorded in the Manual (see Vol. I, especially pp. 23–26), but for deeper insights, the reader should consult this article, together with another recent biography by Carlos O. Morales [see The Cutting Edge 10(3): 7, Jul. 2003]. Generously illustrated, mostly in color.
Peralta, I. E., D. M. Spooner & S. Knapp. 2008.
Taxonomy of wild tomatoes and their relatives (Solanum sect. Lycopersicoides, sect. Juglandifolia, sect. Lycopersicon; Solanaceae). Syst. Bot. Monogr. 84: 1–186.
We mention this only in passing, as just one sp. in this group occurs in Costa Rican, namely, the cultivated tomato itself, Solanum lycopersicum L. (which, not being “wild,” is not treated fully in this work). A standard revision, with all the features usual for this series.
Pupulin, F. & G. Rojas. 2006. A new species of Sigmatostalix (Orchidaceae: Oncidiinae) from Costa Rica, and its concolorous form. Orchids (West Palm Beach) 75: 678–684.
The new sp., Sigmatostalix dulcineae Pupulin & G. A. Rojas, hails from ca. 1200–1700 m elevation in the well botanized Las Alturas region (on the Pacific slope of the eastern Cordillera de Talamanca), where only the first author and his pals have managed to find it. Even they have made just three collections, yet, among these, two distinct flower types are represented: S. dulcineae f. flava Pupulin & G. A. Rojas, also described as new, differs from the autonymic forma in its concolorous (vs. blotched with red-brown) flowers. Includes a dichotomous and indented key to the spp. of the Sigmatostalix picta Rchb. f. group. These are separated largely on the basis of labellum shape, depicted for each sp. in a composite line drawing. Also illustrated with numerous color photos from life, as well as a composite line drawing of the new sp.
Reveal, J. L., R. Olmstead & W. S. Judd. 2008. (1812–1813) Proposals to conserve the name Veronicaceae (Magnoliophyta), and to conserve it against Plantaginaceae, a “superconservation” proposal. Taxon 57: 643–644.
The authors seek conservation of the name Veronicaceae against Plantaginaceae when those two families are united, despite the fact that many recent authors have used the latter name “because [it] is the correct name under the present rules.” For some reason, these authors have it in for Plantaginaceae, having previously proposed conservation of Antirrhinaceae against it (that proposal being here withdrawn, for reasons that are not made entirely clear). Their stated goal in promoting Veronicaceae is to “resolve the nomenclatural confusion caused by the competing circumscriptions of Plantaginaceae.” But of course, that same logic could be applied equally well to any of these family names: why not ditch Scrophulariaceae, for example, to “resolve” this same sort of confusion? Our assessment of the original Antirrhinaceae proposal is still germane: “...personal preferences should play no role in these matters; this is precisely the kind of disagreement that the rules of priority were designed to avert, impartially, in the first place” [The Cutting Edge 6(2): 6, Apr. 1999].
Rojas-Alvarado, A. F. 2007.
Novedades en Cyathea (Filicales: Cyatheaceae) para Costa Rica y Panamá. MES 2(3): 1–13.
Two of the three outright novelties occur in Costa Rica: Cyathea cervantesiana A. Rojas, most similar to C. suprastrigosa (Christ) Maxon, has been collected mainly above 2500 m elevation on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca and near the Continental Divide, barely entering westernmost Panama; Cyathea ×moralesiana A. Rojas, apparently believed to be a hybrid between C. multiflora Sm. and C. ursina (Maxon) Lellinger, is vouchered by just two specimens, both collected by the author at 40 m elevation in the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Barra de Colorado. The name for another hybrid, Cyathea ×smithiana A. Rojas, is validated by a Latin description, omitted from original protologue [see The Cutting Edge 13(2): 11, Apr. 2006]. There follows the usual miscellany: Cyathea onusta Christ is reported as new to Prov. Chiriquí, Panama (though TROPICOS records five collections from Chiriquí, mostly identified by the author in 1998), as is C. povedae A. Rojas, an erstwhile Costa Rican endemic; Cyathea amazonica R. C. Moran is added to the synonymy of C. acutidens (Christ) Domin, and C. albomarginata R. C. Moran to that of C. holdridgeana Nisman & L. D. Gómez, the author evidently having forgotten that he accomplished the latter task six years ago [see The Cutting Edge 9(2): 9, Apr. 2002].
Skog, L. E. & J. Katzenstein. 2008.
The genus Achimenes. Gesneriads 58(2): 15–26.
This informal, popular article attributes to Costa Rica (without citing specimens) Achimenes erecta (Lam.) H. P. Fuchs and (more guardedly) A. saxicola (Brandegee) C. V. Morton, spp. for which we have found no bonafide records. We are also surprised by the mention of A. misera Lindl. in this connection, as we believed we had made the first Costa Rican collection very recently [see The Cutting Edge 14(4): 1–2, Oct. 2007].
Téllez-Valdés, O. & R. Geeta. 2007.
Sinopsis taxonómica de la sección Apodostemon (Dioscorea; Dioscoreaceae). Revista Mex. Biodivers. 78: 265–279.
Eighteen spp. are treated here, of which 11 are Mesoamerican and seven mainly South American. There are no taxonomic novelties, and just two of the spp. occur in Costa Rica: Dioscorea mexicana Scheidw. and D. spiculiflora Hemsl., both widespread and much collected. Features a dichotomous and indented key to spp., synonymy and typology, formal section and sp. descriptions, representative specimen citations, a general distribution map, and a section on excluded spp. Illustrated with several color photos.
Till, W. 2008. (1816) Proposal to conserve the name Tillandsia butzii against T. inanis (Bromeliaceae). Taxon 57: 647–648.
The name Tillandsia butzii Mez has been used regularly for a Mesoamerican sp., well known in horticultural circles, since its publication in 1935; by contrast, T. inanis Lindl. (1850), now known to apply to the same sp., has never been used at all (its type locality having been indicated erroneously as “Buenos Ayres”). In view of the ironically liberal prevailing attitude toward conservation, this proposal is undoubtedly a slam-dunk. A further irony is that so elegant a sp. is saddled with two such unflattering names!
Turner, B. L. 2008. Overview of the section Platypteris of Verbesina (Asteraceae) and description of a new species. Phytologia 90: 52–62.
The titular section comprises eight spp., of which just two, Verbesina crocata (Cav.) Less. and V. ovatifolia A. Gray, extend to Costa Rica. Most of the others are predominantly Mexican, the region targeted by this contribution. A key is provided to distinguish “the western species...in Mexico” (V. ovatifolia, “largely restricted to the more eastern provinces,” being omitted), and maps record the Mexican distributions of the seven spp. that occur there. Discussions are exceedingly brief except, most notably, for the new sp., a Mexican endemic.
Warwick, M. C., G. P. Lewis & H. C. de Lima. 2008. A reappraisal of Barnebydendron (Leguminosae: Caesalpinioideae: Detarieae). Kew Bull. 63: 143–149.
Readers may recall that, for rather obscure nomenclatural reasons, the well-known generic name Phyllocarpus Riedel ex Tul. was recently replaced by Barnebydendron J. H. Kirkbr., and at the same time one of the two spp. that had been accepted in the genus was sunk into synonymy; thus, in one terrible stroke, our cherished Phyllocarpus septentrionalis Donn. Sm. became Barnebydendron riedelii (Tul.) J. H. Kirkbr. [see The Cutting Edge 7(4): Oct. 2000]. This much more thorough consideration, amounting to a generic revision, confirms the transformation, at least from a taxonomic standpoint: i.e., the genus is indeed monospecific. Includes full synonymy and typology, formal genus and sp. descriptions, distribution and phenology summaries, a comprehensive exsiccatae listing, and a distribution map. Illustrated with a fine composite line drawing and a color photographic plate depicting living material.