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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XVI, Number 3, July 2009

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

Alvarado-Cárdenas, L. O.  2009. Sistemática del género Bdallophytum (Cytinaceae).  Acta Bot. Mex. 87: 1–21.

Three spp. are recognized in this peculiar genus of root parasites (formerly included in Rafflesiaceae), which had not been revised since 1935.  One of these, Bdallophytum americanum (R. Br.) Eichler ex Solms, accounts for the entire geographic range of the genus, from central Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica; the other two spp. are Mexican endemics.  The author cites no Costa Rican specimens of B. americanum, only the report by Luis Diego Gómez in his 1983 Flora costaricensis treatment of Rafflesiaceae [which, by the way, was corroborated during our recent work on the Península de Santa Elena; see The Cutting Edge 10(4): 1, Oct. 2003].  Synonymy and typology, formal descriptions, distribution summaries, and “comentarios” are provided for Cytinaceae, Bdallophytum, and each sp., as well as a dichotomous and indented key to spp., comprehensive specimen citations, and a distribution map.  The introductory part addresses key morphological features and taxonomic history.  All three spp. are depicted in a composite plate of (mainly) color photos.

Álvarez-Molina, A. & K. M. Cameron.  2009. Molecular phylogenetics of Prescottiinae s.l. and their close allies (Orchidaceae, Cranichideae) inferred from plastid and nuclear ribosomal DNA sequences.  Amer. J. Bot. 96: 1020–1040.

This paper is mainly concerned with suprageneric classification, of little interest to us.  However, at least one result has potential consequences for Costa Rican floristics:  the genus Aa, with a single sp. in Costa Rica, is paraphyletic with respect to the Andean Myrosmodes.  The names have equal priority, but it seems likely that, in the event of a merger, Aa (with perhaps twice as many spp.) would prevail in the conservation arena.  And it would be a shame to lose such a name!  Prescottia is also paraphyletic, with respect to the monospecific, Mexican Pseudocranichis, but not in a way that portends problems for us.  Gratuitously illustrated with a single plate of photos, mostly in color and of living specimens (even AJB is not immune!).

Borhidi, A.  2008. Revalidation of the genus Tournefortiopsis Rusby (Guettardeae, Rubiaceae) and a new Guettarda from Costa Rica.  Acta Bot. Hung. 50: 61–72.

Emboldened by fresh molecular evidence [see The Cutting Edge 13(3): 3, Jul. 2006], the author separates “the so-called Guettarda crispiflora complex” as a genus unto its own right, under the name Tournefortiopsis Rusby.  An emended generic desciption is provided (in both Latin and English), and new combinations are validated as needed.  For taxa occurring in Costa Rica, these are:  Tournefortiopsis crispiflora (Vahl) Borhidi [and presumably also T. c. subsp cobanensis (Donn. Sm.) Borhidi]; T. conferta (Benth.) Borhidi (with Costa Rican material assigned to the autonymic subsp.); and T. poasana (Standl.) Borhidi.  The sp. known to us as Guettarda tournefortiopsis Standl. must evidently be called Tournefortiopsis reticulata Rusby in the author’s new system.  The remaining Costa Rican representatives of the old Guettarda will apparently remain there, with the exception of G. acreana K. Krause (“of Venezuela and French Guyana,” according to this author), which “is next to Stenostomum lucidum, and should be placed into Stenostomum” (the repository for most of the New World spp. formerly included in Antirhea).  Surprisingly, the author resists making the indicated new combination.  The new Costa Rican Guettarda, G. rupicola Borhidi (not illustrated), is known only by the type (A. Jiménez 2177; CR, F, NY), from a most unlikely locality:  hanging from rocks along the beach at the mouth of the Río Barranca, near Puntarenas.  This is a dry-forest site where one might better expect to find a sp. such as Exostema caribaeum (Jacq.) Roem. & Schult.

Bush, C. M., L. Lu, P. W. Fritsch, D.-Z. Li & K. A. Kron.  2009. Phylogeny of Gaultherieae (Ericaceae: Vaccinioideae) based on DNA sequence data from matK, ndhF, and nrITS.  Int. J. Pl. Sci. 170: 355–364.

More evidence, as if any were needed, that Pernettya is nested within Gaultheria [see The Cutting Edge 9(1): 8–9, Jan. 2002].  Indeed, that notion was accepted a priori for this study, and also in the two most recent editions of The plant-book.  Nonetheless, Pernettya will live on in the impending Manual treatment of Ericaceae, by James L. Luteyn (NY) and Robert L. Wilbur (DUKE).

Der, J. P., J. A. Thomson, J. K. Stratford & P. G. Wolf.  2009. Global chloroplast phylogeny and biogeography of bracken (Pteridium; Dennstaedtiaceae).  Amer. J. Bot. 96: 1041–1049.

This study does not bode well, either for the methodology or else for the prevailing taxonomy of Pteridium, at least in the Mesoamerican region, as we understand it.  Three spp. of Pteridium were accepted in the 1995 Flora mesoamericana treatment of the genus by Robbin C. Moran (NY), all of which had previously been regarded, at one time or another, as vars. of P. aquilinum (L.) Kuhn.  One of these, P. feei (W. Schaffn. ex Fée) Faull (the only one not attributed to Costa Rica), is nowhere mentioned in this paper.  The other two appear to be polyphyletic:  Costa Rican accessions identified as Pteridium caudatum (L.) Maxon crop up in both principal clades of the genus, while P. arachnoideum (Kaulf.) Maxon, though still polyphyletic, is at least confined to one of these clades.  The authors do not seem particularly bothered by any of this, and merrily use their results as a springboard for speculation.  We fear we have missed something along the way.

Donadío, S., L. M. Giussani, E. A. Kellogg, F. O. Zuloaga & O. Morrone.  2009. A preliminary molecular phylogeny of Pennisetum and Cenchrus (Poaceae-Paniceae) based on the trnL-F, rp116 chloroplast markers.  Taxon 58: 392–404.

This study confirms several previous ones [see, e.g., The Cutting Edge 9(1): 4, Jan. 2002] in portraying Pennisetum as paraphyletic with respect to Cenchrus.  The latter genus is also diphyletic, with two clades nested separately in Pennisetum.  The authors observe that the name Cenchrus s. str. could be restricted to one of these clades, “a core group of American species” (including probably all the ones occurring in Costa Rica), though it seems to us this would still leave Pennisetum as paraphyletic.  No taxonomic changes are formalized, pending the usual “further evidence.”

Gómez, L. D. & A. L. Arbeláez.  2009. Helechos.  En, W. D. Stevens, O. M. Montiel & A. Pool (eds.), Flora de Nicaragua.  Tomo IV.  Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. 116: 1–348.

The publication of this handsome volume, nearly 30 years in gestation (according to the preface by the first author), completes the systematic portion of Flora de Nicaragua.  And once again, the editors of this series have thrown the gauntlet before us, not only in terms of the high standards manifest in this book, but also by the mere fact of having dispatched the pteridophytes, which are still “on the cusp” for the Manual.  Granted, their task was somewhat easier than ours would be:  633 spp. of ferns and their allies are treated in this work (including 82 of only hypothetical occurrence in Nicaragua), probably less than half the ultimate total for Costa Rica.  That will be our excuse for the time being!  As would be expected, this volume mostly follows the format already established for the flora, with four notable exceptions:  page size (longer and wider by more than an inch), the indication of conservation status (according to IUCN Red List categories) for each sp. of vouchered occurrence in Nicaragua, and the welcome addition of both distribution maps and illustrations.  The distribution maps, intercalated in the text, are provided for each sp. vouchered from Nicaragua, and every sp. (as far as we can tell) is illustrated, rather an astounding achievement.  The illustrations, all very nicely executed by the second author, are deferred to a separate section following the main text, with vouchers (not necessarily Nicaraguan) cited for each.  The text itself was produced entirely by the authors and editors, with no outside contributors credited for any portion.  There is no key to genera, just as the previous volumes of the flora contained no keys to spermatophyte families.  The genera (as well as the spp. within each genus) are presented in strict alphabetical order, obviating the notoriously unstable pteridophyte family system; however, a table near the beginning of the volume groups the genera according to the most recent generally accepted familial classification [see The Cutting Edge 13(4): 9–10, Oct. 2006].  Otherwise, taxonomy and nomenclature are “mayormente al día,” as stated in the introduction by W. D. Stevens (MO), the authors having gone so far as to accept Serpocaulon [see The Cutting Edge 14(1): 10–11, Jan. 2007], even while the fragmentation of Polypodium s. l. is still unfinished.  A few developments are new even to us, e.g., the installation of the name Danaea geniculata Raddi for the sp. previously known (incorrectly) as D. elliptica Sm. in Central America.  But not every recently suggested change was adopted in knee-jerk fashion:  for example, the authors elected to ignore a proposed breakup of the genus Trichomanes [see The Cutting Edge 14(3): 4, Jul. 2007], as well as the revision of Elaphoglossum latifolium (Sw.) J. Sm. by Alexander Rojas [see The Cutting Edge 11(1): 9, Jan. 2004].  Some of these informed decisions may have been guided by practical, rather than theoretical, considerations.  Other taxonomic innovations clearly appeared too late to even be mentioned, e.g., Rojas’s revisions of the Adiantum tetraphyllum Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd., Blechnum lherminieri (Bory) C. Chr., and Nephrolepis pendula (Raddi) J. Sm. complexes [see The Cutting Edge 15(4): 7–8, Oct. 2008].  The brief introductory part of the book includes maps plotting the diversity of pteridophytes and vascular plants in Nicaragua, as well as the density of collections of vascular plants (not surprisingly, the three maps look very much alike).  An index to scientific names is found in the usual position.  No taxonomic novelties are validated in this publication.

The 10 most diverse pteridophyte genera in Nicaragua are Thelypteris (51 spp.), Asplenium (30 spp.), Elaphoglossum and Trichomanes (28 spp. each), Adiantum (26 spp.), Diplazium (23 spp.), Selaginella (21 spp.), Tectaria (19 spp.), Polypodium (17 spp.), and Huperzia (16 spp.).  Thelypteris mombachensis L. D. Gómez is characterized as “la única especie de helechos endémica de Nicaragua,” but Anemia sp. A (the only sp. treated under a provisional name) is indicated has having the same status.

Despite the fact that it omits more than half the pteridophyte spp. recorded from Costa Rica, this flora is a must-own for biologists and plant enthusiasts based in that country:  first, because it includes nearly all of the genera, and second, because it is so richly illustrated.  It should prove especially useful in the Costa Rican lowlands (both wet and dry), by virtue of featuring a relatively greater proportion of the spp.  It is in the montane regions of Costa Rica where pteridophyte diversity really goes hog-wild, with an abundance of spp. in genera such as Elaphoglossum, Grammitis s. l., Huperzia, and Hymenophyllum.  These are the parts of the country in which this book would be least relevant.  Nicaragua, with very little land area above 2000 m elevation, is nearly destitute of comparable upland habitats.  The highest point in the country (Cerro Mogotón, on the Honduran border) attains approximately 2107 m, but is by all accounts highly treacherous due to the presence of land-mines, and apparently has not been visited by botanists.  In any event, the highest elevation attributed to any pteridophyte sp. in this volume is just 1850 m.  Botanical collecting at higher elevations, when this becomes possible, will undoubtedly yield many new pteridophyte records for Nicaragua.

We did notice one possible error:  the names Nephrolepis brownii (Desv.) Hovenkamp & Miyam. and N. hirsutula (G. Forst.) C. Presl [the latter with N. multiflora (Roxb.) F. M. Jarrett ex C. V. Morton in synonymy] are used for two ostensibly distinct spp., whereas, according to our understanding, they refer to a single sp. in tropical America, properly N. brownii [with N. hirsutula misapplied, and N. multiflora in synonymy; see The Cutting Edge 12(4): 7, Oct. 2005].  However, we have not checked the Nicaraguan specimens to verify this.

Groeninckx, I., S. Dessein, H. Ochoterena, C. Persson, T. J. Motley, J. Kårehed, B. Bremer, S. Huysmans & E. Smets.  2009. Phylogeny of the herbaceous tribe Spermacoceae (Rubiaceae) based on plastid DNA data.  Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 96: 109–132.

First, the good news:  Arcytophyllum, Bouvardia, Crusea, Manettia, Mitracarpus, and Richardia are all moderately to strongly supported as monophyletic.  Now, the not-so-good:  Diodia s. l. (including Diodella) is diphyletic (though the transgressing sp., nested in Galianthe, does not occur in Costa Rica), and Spermacoce (including Borreria) appears quite polyphyletic.  Oldenlandia is even more seriously polyphyletic:  of the two spp. occurring in Costa Rica (both apparently introduced from Africa), O. corymbosa L. is the generic type, so presumably not threatened, but O. lancifolia (Schumach.) DC. is rather distantly removed from it.

Hágsater, E.  2007. The genus Epidendrum.  Part 6.  Species new & old in Epidendrum.  Icon. Orchid. 9: pl. 901–1000.

--. 2008. The genus Epidendrum.  Part 7.  Species new & old in Epidendrum.  Icon. Orchid. 11: pl. 1101–1200.

These two works, which we will consider as a unit (since the earlier one had eluded us), continue the “new & old” theme inaugurated in Part 5 of the author’s Epidendrum marathon (Fascicle 8 of the series) and adhere to the same format, as summarized in our review of the last-mentioned title [see The Cutting Edge 13(3): 6–7, Jul. 2006].  Altogether, 42 new spp. are described in these most recent contributions, including the following six from Costa Rica:  the endemic Epidendrum apatotylosum Hágsater, from ca. 800 m on the Atlantic slope of the northern Cordillera de Talamanca, previously confused with E. baumannianum Schltr.; E. astroselaginella Hágsater & E. Santiago, a member of the Epidanthus group, of Costa Rica (650–1050 m, Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca) and Panama; the endemic E. bicuniculatum Hágsater & E. Santiago, a member of the Neowilliamsia group, known by a single collection from 1700–1850 m elevation in Parque Nacional Tapantí; the endemic E. isthmoides Hágsater & E. Santiago, similar, of course, to E. isthmi Schltr., as well as E. piliferum Rchb. f., and restricted to the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Tilarán at ca. 900 m elevation, in the Monteverde region; E. stenoselaginella Hágsater & E. Santiago, a member of the Epidanthus group, ranging from southwestern Nicaragua to western Panama (1100–1500 m in Costa Rica, mainly on the Atlantic slope, in the Cordilleras de Tilarán and Central and the northern Cordillera de Talamanca); and E. tritropianthum Hágsater & E. Santiago, yet another member of the Epidanthus group, of Costa Rica (1700–2100 m, Atlantic slope of the Cordillera Central and northern Cordillera de Talamanca) and western Panama.  We also get a new natural hybrid, Epidendrum ×nocteburneum Hágsater & L. Sánchez, putatively involving E. eburneum Rchb. f. and E. nocturnum Jacq., with a single Costa Rican record from San Miguel de Sarapiquí.  But the fun does not stop there, as these publications are replete with vital new information.  Five previously described spp. are added to the Costa Rican flora, mostly on the basis of changing taxonomy or newly reported collections:  Epidendrum buenaventurae F. Lehm. & Kraenzl. (L. D. Gómez 19984, MO; Isla del Caño), E. hawkesii A. H. Heller (resegregated from E. baumannianum Schltr., which also occurs in Costa Rica), E. rousseauae Schltr. (Todzia 552, CR; Reserva Biológica Hitoy-Cerere), E. serruliferum Schltr. [Wercklé 114, B (destroyed); La Palma de San José], and E. vulcanicola A. H. Heller (Alcázar 56, USJ; G. Herrera 3932, MO; 900–1100 m, Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Guanacaste).  Epidendrum serruliferum is a special embarrassment for us, as the type (cited above) is from Costa Rica, and the name was nowhere accounted for in the Manual.  Indirect evidence chalks up yet an additional Epidendrum spp. for Costa Rica:  E. villotae Hágsater & Dodson (extending southward to Ecuador), from 450 m elevation on the Atlantic slope of the eastern Cordillera de Talamanca (G. Herrera 5151, MO).  But the synonymization of Epidendrum alfredii Schltr. under E. pachyrachis Ames (both treated in full in the Manual) signifies the loss of a sp. for the country.  Three spp. are reported from so near the Costa Rican border in western Panama that they would have been at least mentioned in the Manual, if not treated formally:  Epidendrum musciferum Lindl. (Prov. Bocas del Toro and Península de Burica), the newly described E. schistostemum Hágsater, Laube & L. Sánchez (Prov. Bocas del Toro), and E. stolidium Hágsater (Cerro Pando).  Five spp. qualify anew as Costa Rican endemics, due either to changing taxonomy or new collection data:  E. microcardium Schltr., E. resectum Rchb. f., E. rigidiflorum Schltr., E. schumannianum Schltr. (under Oerstedella in the Manual), and E. wercklei Schltr.  However, these gains are more than offset by 10 endemics lost for similar reasons:  E. acrostigma Hágsater & García-Cruz (now a synonym of the erstwhile Panamanian endemic E. gibbosum L. O. Williams), E. adnatum Ames & C. Schweinf. (also in Panama), E. circinatum Ames (also in western Panama), E. glumibracteum Rchb. f. (synonymized under the widespread E. purpurascens H. Focke), E. guanacastense Ames & C. Schweinf. (also in Panama), E. muscicola Schltr. (also in western Panama), E. palmense Ames (also in western Panama), E. subnutans Ames & C. Schweinf. (also in western Panama), E. trialatum Hágsater (also in Panama), and E. turialvae Rchb. f. (in both Nicaragua and Panama).  Three other name changes are to be noted, though they do not affect endemicity:  Epidendrum latifolium (Lindl.) Garay & H. R. Sweet becomes a synonym of E. angustilobum Fawc. & Rendle; E. powellii Schltr. is restricted to a Panamanian endemic, with Costa Rican material formerly treated under that name now referred to E. arcuiflorum Ames & C. Schweinf. (which also occurs in Panama); and E. raniferum Lindl. becomes a synonym of E. cristatum Ruiz & Pav.  A veritable treasure trove of specimen citations (the bulk, in each fascicle, deferred to an appendix) mandates changes in Manual distribution statements far too numerous to present in this space, some of these rather profound; one of the latter examples will suffice to drive the point home:  the Costa Rican distribution of Epidendrum piliferum, stated in the Manual as “1000–1850 m; vert. Pac. Cords. de Tilarán y de Talamanca,” would have to be changed to something like “(250–)750–1850+ m; vert. Carib. y cerca de la División Continental, Cord. Central, Llanura de Santa Clara, ambas verts. N Cord. de Talamanca, Cerros de La Carpintera, vert. Pac. Cord. de Tilarán, Tablazo, Cerros de Escazú, Cerro Turrubares, Valle Central, cuenca del Río Grande de Candelaria.”  This does not even account for phenology, which cannot be directly assessed from these citations.  Finally, we are alerted to an editorial oversight in the Manual Epidendrum account:  we ought to have indicated that Epidendrum pseudepidendrum Rchb. f. is in fact a nomen novum, based on Pseudepidendrum spectabile Rchb. f. [Bot. Zeitung (Berlin) 10: 733.  1852, non Epidendrum spectabile H. Focke (1853)].

Kaes, E.  2009. Costa Rica – eine Exkursion in die Cordillera de Talamanca und zur Comunidad Dúrika als Modell für die Erhaltung und Restaurierung tropischer Regenwälder.  OrchideenJ. 16(2): 29–37.

A travelogue with lots of pretty pictures.  Working out of Buenos Aires, in the southern Valle de El General, the author ascends the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca to at least 3000 m elevation, with a special interest in (needless to say) orchids.  “Comunidad Dúrika” is characterized as an international project to protect and restore forests and to promote the interests of local indigenous people.  We know nothing of this, but clearly they have a nice facility (“Dúrika Lodge”) on the mountainside.

Kahn, F.  2008. The genus Astrocaryum (Arecaceae)/El género Astrocaryum (Arecaceae).  Revista Peruana Biol. 15(Supl. 1): 31–48.

Astrocaryum, with an estimated 40 spp., is one of the most intractable New World palm genera, comprising plants that are not only ferociously armed but also frequently very large.  The genus has not been revised since 1934, and although this author has been working on the group for many years, a new revision is still somewhere down the road.  But this contribution is a useful first step:  a synoptic treatment that presents a new infrageneric classification, along with a dichotomous (though non-indented) key to all of the currently accepted spp.  Three subgenera are recognized, each with two or more sections and (irregularly) various subsections.  Three sections and two subsections are described as new, and one new combination is validated at sectional rank.  Synonymy and typology are provided for all infrageneric taxa, but there is no key to these, nor are there descriptions (except brief Latin ones for the new entities).  Entries for each sp., nested in an outline of the infrageneric classification, include taxonomic references, a distribution summary, an indication of habit, and common names.  Distrbution by country is conveniently summarized in a separate table, with just two spp. attributed to Costa Rica:  Astrocaryum confertum H. Wendl. ex Burret and A. standleyanum L. H. Bailey, both assigned to subgen. Astrocaryum sect. Astrocaryum subsect. Astrocaryum (astute readers wondering about the fate of A. alatum H. F. Loomis are referred to Pintaud et al., this column).  Three color plates supplement the text.

Kuijt, J.  2009. Monograph of Psittacanthus (Loranthaceae).  Syst. Bot. Monogr. 86: 1–361.

The 51 new spp. described in this sizeable opus essentially double the total for this important neotropical genus, which now stands at 119.  Quite surprisingly, just one of the novelties occurs in Costa Rica, that being Psittacanthus salicifolius Kuijt, endemic in wet lowland forests of the Pacific slope.  Despite this apparent addition, the net result for the Manual Loranthaceae treatment by Francisco Morales (INB) is the loss of a sp.:  P. salicifolius was already accounted for by Chico (as “Psittacanthus sp. A”), so nothing is gained there, while P. scheryi Woodson, accepted by Chico (as also by Kuijt, in his 1983 Flora costaricensis account with William Burger), is lost to the synonymy of P. ramiflorus (DC.) G. Don.  The only other significant change that we must absorb involves the sp. that we have known by the name Psittacanthus corynocephalus Eichler, which becomes a synonym of P. acinarius (Mart.) Mart.  This is a beautiful piece of work, reflecting the high standards of both the author and the series, with all of the features that could be hoped for in a monograph (including comprehensive specimen citations, distribution maps, and composite line drawings representing every sp.).  The introductory part includes discussions of taxonomic history, important morphological and anatomical characters, chromosome numbers, pollination, dispersal, host-parasite relationships, and distribution.  If only something on this order were available for every plant genus!

Lehnert, M.  2008. Eleven new species in the grammitid fern genus Melpomene (Polypodiaceae).  Amer. Fern J. 98: 214–250.

The only one of these novelties that concerns us is Melpomene personata Lehnert, widespread from Mexico to Bolivia, Venezuela, and the Greater Antilles (Dominican Republic), which has “often been mistaken for M. pilosissima” (the sp. with which it is most closely compared).  All of the Costa Rican specimens cited are from 2900–3300 m elevation in the northern part of the Cordillera de Talamanca (“Cerro de La Muerte” region), on both slopes.  Left unanswered is the question of whether or not the real Melpomene pilosissima (M. Martens & Galeotti) A. R. Sm. & R. C. Moran remains attributable to Costa Rica.  Illustrated with an excellent composite line drawing.

Monro, A. K. & A. Rodríguez.  2009. Three new species and a nomenclatural synopsis of Urera (Urticaceae) from Mesoamerica.  Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 96: 268–285.

Finally, real progress on this nettlesome genus!  While several other treatments dealing with portions of the Mesoamerican region have appeared during the past several decades [see The Cutting Edge 12(3): 11, Jul. 2005, for the most recent], this is the first to cover the entire region, with reference to a wealth of herbarium material (nearly 1000 collections) from a wide range of herbaria, including the types of all relevant names.  Ten spp. are recognized from the region, fully eight of which are attributed to Costa Rica.  These include Urera baccifera (L.) Gaudich. ex Wedd. and U. laciniata Goudot ex Wedd., two fiercely armed spp. that have never been any problem.  The remaining six spp. in Costa Rica were subsumed under the names U. caracasana (Jacq.) Gaudich. ex Griseb. and U. elata (Sw.) Griseb. in William Burger’s (F) Flora costaricensis account of Urticaceae (1977).  Ironically, the two most distinctive of these proved to lack names and are here described as new:  the endemic Urera guanacastensis A. K. Monro & Al. Rodr., comprising arborescent plants with narrow, glabrous leaves, restricted to the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Guanacaste at 820–1350 m elevation; and the widespread (southern Mexico to Bolivia), characteristically scandent U. lianoides A. K. Monro & Al. Rodr. (corresponding to U. sp. A of Flora de Nicaragua), which has often misidentified as U. eggersii Hieron.  One other new sp. is described:  Urera fenestrata A. K. Monro & Al. Rodr., of Costa Rica and western Panama, distinguished by its “gnarled, windowed” stems and ovate, entire to weakly indented leaves; this is a cordilleran sp., occurring at 800–3000 on both slopes.  Also principally cordilleran (500–2800 m, southern Mexico to Bolivia) is U. verrucosa (Liebm.) V. W. Steinm., recognized by its bullate leaves.  The final two spp. known from Costa Rica are both relatively weedy, and widespread geographically (southern Mexico to Bolivia or Argentina) as well as altitudinally (0–2500 m):  U. caracasana [including U. alceifolia (Poir.) Gaudich. and U. corallina (Liebm.) Wedd.], with relatively broad leaves (and monoecious, according to our observations), and U. simplex Wedd. [including U. eggersii and U. rzedowskii V. W. Steinm.], with relatively narrow leaves (and dioecious, we submit).  Urera simplex corresponds with U. eggersii in the sense of Flora de Nicaragua (we cannot tell what U. simplex of that work represents), and has generally been called U. elata in Costa Rica.  The last-mentioned name is here restricted to “a species endemic to Jamaica.”

This synopsis accords precisely with our personal notions of Urera taxonomy in Costa Rica, at least in terms of the number of sp. and their gross characterization.  We cannot, of course, evaluate the application of names, and the paucity of specimen citations (except for the new spp.) precludes a thorough understanding of certain taxa (this is a particular problem for U. caracasana and U. simplex).  Each sp. entry features full synonymy and typology (also provided for the genus), a list of common names (as available), a distribution summary, a discussion, and specimen citations; the latter are comprehensive only in the case of new spp., which also come with lengthy descriptions, a conservation assessment, and etymology.  The three new spp. are also illustrated with excellent composite line drawings.  A dichotomous and indented key separates the spp., and an index to exsiccatae is appended.

Mouly, A. S. G. Razafimandimbison, J. Florence, J. Jérémie & B. Bremer.  2009. Paraphyly of Ixora and new tribal delimitation of Ixoreae (Rubiaceae):  inference from combined chloroplast (rps16, rbcL, and trnT-F) sequence data.  Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 96: 146–160.

Wait a minute, haven’t we seen this before?  Something very similar, anyway [see The Cutting Edge 16(2): 8, Apr. 2009], and actually postdating this, in terms of its taxonomic treatment of Ixora (here accepted as a paraphyletic genus).  Unless they’ve changed their minds!

Oakeley, H. F.  2008. Lycaste, Ida and Anguloa: the essential guide.  H. F. Oakeley, Kent, U. K.  445 pp.

The three genera mentioned in the title fall into that exasperating category of ostentatious orchids that seem to exist, like ginkgos or peafowl, almost exclusively in domestication.  Decent herbarium collections prepared in the field by reputable botanists are few and far between, perhaps because these plants are seldom encountered in flower, or their populations have been decimated by predatory horticultural collectors, or because even botanists often cannot resist the temptation to bring them back alive.  As a result, reliable floristic information on such taxa is in extremely short supply.  This opulent, meticulously detailed vanity publication contributes very little in this regard, but instead panders to hobbyist growers, many of whom are lionized in color photos (and after all, these are the people who will be buying the book).  Only Lycaste, among the featured genera, occurs in Costa Rica and need concern us.  Whereas Robert L. Dressler’s Manual account treated seven spp.for the country, the present author accepts at least 11, as well as several vars. and one or two hybrids.  The discrepancy owes mainly to the elevation to sp. rank of taxa formerly treated as vars. or subspp. of Lycaste macrophylla (Poepp. & Endl.) Lindl., now restricted to South America.  Four of these are attributed to Costa Rica, as was already detailed in our review of a precursor paper by the same author [see The Cutting Edge 15(1): 10, Jan. 2008] in which the combinations were validated inadvertently (as we now know for sure, since they are again proposed here).  It is now clear that Lycaste macrophylla subsp. desboisiana (Cogn.) Fowlie, accepted in the Manual, is regarded by Oakeley as a synonym of L. measuresiana (B. S. Williams) Oakeley, meaning that L. panamanensis (Fowlie) Oakeley is the only net addition to the Costa Rican flora from this group.  The other net addition at sp. rank is Lycaste crystallina Wubben ex Oakeley, described as new on the basis of a plant cultivated in the Netherlands and said to have originated in Costa Rica (an unvouchered photo depicts a plant growing on a fence post, allegedly in Costa Rica).  Another new sp. from Costa Rica (and western Panama), Lycaste angelae Oakeley, does not represent an addition to the flora, since it applies to the same sp. treated in the Manual under the name L. brevispatha (Klotzsch) Lindl. & Paxton (even so, we will factor L. angelae, together with L. crystallina, into our running count, now up to 271, including the new spp. of Epidendrum discussed under Hágsater, this column).  Lycaste brevispatha is deemed (based on a new lectotypification of its basionym) a synonym of L. candida; this is contrary to TROPICOS, which accepts a later publication date for L. candida, but Oakeley’s analysis is careful and merits consideration.  Rounding out the list of novelties for Costa Rica are two new vars. apiece of L. angelae and L. candida, all cultivated in Costa Rica, and Lycaste ×daniloi Oakeley, claimed to be a natural hybrid between L. angelae and L. candidaLycaste angelae var. rubra Oakeley would appear to be invalid, as it is typified by “the photo published here” (there are actually three photos); the Code (Art. 37.4) now requires (as of 1 January 2007) that “the type must be a specimen.”  The recently described Lycaste bruncana Bogarín [see The Cutting Edge 15(2): 4, Apr. 2008] did not make the cut for this volume.

The introductory part of this work features an extensive historical account (and history is emphasized throughout the text), as well as discussions of morphological features, distinguishing features at generic rank (including molecular phylogeny!), and dichotomous (though non-indented) keys to the spp. of each genus.  There is no key to genera, and no formal generic descriptions.  A new infrageneric classification of Lycaste is presented, featuring three sections (two described as new).  Formal descriptions are provided for each of the 31 accepted spp. of Lycaste.  The text is richly illustrated throughout with technically excellent color photos, mostly of live plants (sometimes in the field).  Although there is a high level of scholarship consistently on display here, a serious drawback, as suggested previously, is the dearth of specimen citations (which may reflect a real lack of herbarium material).  The natural distribution of most spp. in Costa Rica is nebulous, and even the presence of some is questionable.  Several spp. are attributed to Costa Rica solely on the basis of cultivated specimens alleged or assumed to have originated there.  Many such records involve plants cultivated within Costa Rica, the assumption apparently being that they must have come from nearby.  But such is not necessarily the case, since Costa Rican growers, like growers everywhere, obtain material from disparate sources.  A germane example may be Lycaste schilleriana Rchb. f. var. rosea Oakeley, based by its author on a specimen cultivated in Costa Rica, though the author admits that Panama “is the likely country of origin.”  In conclusion, while the taxonomy presented in this volume may fulfill the immediate needs of horticulturists desiring names for their potted specimens, its applicability to the real, biological world will have to be evaluated painstakingly by botanists working in the field, making careful observations and preparing properly annotated herbarium specimens.

Ossenbach, C., F. Pupulin & R. L. Dressler.  2007. Orquídeas del istmo centroamericano:  catálogo y estado de conservación/Checklist and conservation status:  Orchids of the Central American isthmus.  Edit. 25 de Mayo, Sabanilla de Montes de Oca, Costa Rica.  243 pp.

All the spp. are listed alphabetically in the main section of the book, according to the most cutting-edge, molecular-based taxonomy (but with cross-referencing), with presence or absence noted (in unvouchered fashion) for each country from Mexico (the southeastern portion) to Panama.  Endemicity is also codified, as is occurrence in adjacent regions (North America, South America, the Antilles) and protected areas (this not on a per-country basis).  These last two aspects are elaborated upon, where necessary, in a separate alphabetical listing toward the end of the book, which provides explicit information on geographic ranges outside Mesoamerica and the protected areas (by country) where these spp. have been found.  Some interesting statistics are marshaled in the totally bilingual (English/Spanish) introductory section.  Costa Rica edges out Panama in having the highest sp. total of Orchidaceae (1461—i.e., 143 more than treated in the Manual) for any of the countries in the region, and easily wins in the spp./km2 department.  Costa Rica also has the most endemic orchid spp. (330), and the highest percentage of endemism (35.37%).  A total of 933 orchid spp. are endemic to one country or another, while just 60 occur throughout the region (in all countries).  Thirty-five pages of color photos in the middle of the book satisfy the incomprehensible requirement for this sort of frill in all publications dealing with orchids, regardless of their nature.

Pintaud, J.-C., B. Millán & F. Kahn.  2008. The genus Hexopetion Burret (Arecaceae)/El género Hexopetion Burret (Arecaceae).  Revista Peruana Biol. 15(Supl. 1): 49–54.

The authors salvage the genus Hexopetion from Astrocaryum on the sole basis of morphological and anatomical differences.  Just two species are involved:  Astrocaryum mexicanum Liebm. ex Mart. (the type sp. of Hexopetion) and A. alatum H. F. Loomis, with the new combination Hexopetion alatum (H. F. Loomis) F. Kahn & Pintaud validated for the only one of these that occurs in Costa Rica.  Our verdict on this is swift and terrible:  fuhgettaboudit!  It is incumbent upon researchers who propose classificatory changes (especially those affecting familiar binomials) to provide solid cladistic (not merely phenetic) justification for their actions, and the botanical community at large bears an equal responsibility to reject any such proposals that fail to do so.  It’s time to put an end to all of this whimsical tinkering, far and away the major cause of nomenclatural instability.  As is often the case, a time-honored folk axiom speaks directly to the heart of the matter:  if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  “Broke,” for our purposes, may be defined as “non-monophyletic,” a condition that has yet to be demonstrated for Astrocaryum sensu lato (the prevailing concept).  So we aren’t buying Hexapetion.  For whatever it may be worth, the authors provide a formal description of Hexopetion (which could serve just as well in an infrageneric setting), as well as a couplet to distinguish its spp. and five color (mostly) plates.

Pool, A.  2009. A review of the genus Distictella (Bignoniaceae).  Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 96: 286–323.

Eighteen spp. are recognized in the genus Distictella which, according to this standard revision, is tentatively restricted to South America.  But what about the sp. treated in Flora costaricensis (2000) as Distictella magnoliifolia (Kunth) Sandwith?  That was our first question, left unanswered after our initial perusal of distribution summaries.  However, a closer reading of the text (under D. magnoliifolia) reveals that the Costa Rican entity (which also occurs in Panama), known to the author only from sterile material with some fragmentary fruits and seeds, is regarded as belonging to a different sp. of dubious affinity; indeed, the author asserts that “it is uncertain what genus these specimens belong to,” and cites a seed character that “would be unique in the genus Distictella.”  We hope that this unsettled situation can be resolved before the Manual Bignoniaceae treatment goes to press, the name Distictella magnoliifolia having been used in the first draft thereof, submitted long ago by Francisco Morales (INB) and Qúirico Jiménez [see The Cutting Edge 4(3): 2, Jul. 1997].  Good fertile material, including flowers, may now be available, as evidenced by color photos purporting to represent this sp. posted on the Flora Digital de La Selva Web site:


Rova, J. H. E., P. G. Delprete & B. Bremer.  2009. The Rondeletia complex (Rubiaceae):  an attempt to use ITS, rps16, and trnL-F sequence data to delimit Guettardeae, Rondeletieae, and sections within Rondeletia.  Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 96: 182–193.

Well, we don’t care very much about sections or tribes, but the generic integrity of Rondeletia does concern us.  Can it hold out in the old, broad sense?  Alas, it would seem that the “segregate” genera Arachnothryx, Javorkaea, and Rogiera have by now become commonly accepted, and together account for almost all of the Costa Rican spp. traditionally included in RondeletiaArachnothryx, at least, does not even belong to the same tribe!  The residual Rondeletia s. str., which “has strong support,” is “predominantly Antillean,” with the sole Costa Rican representative being the rather rare R. hameliifolia Dwyer & M. V. Hayden.  Whether these changes will find their way into the Manual Rubiaceae treatment remains to be seen.

Soto, D. A.  2007. Una nueva especie de Cestrum (Solanaceae).  Brenesia 67: 25–28.

Cestrum cristinae D. A. Soto (dedicated to the author’s daughter) is endemic to Costa Rica, where it occurs at 1300–2200 m elevation on both slopes of the Cordillera de Talamanca and in the Cerros de La Carpintera and Cerros de Escazú.  The new sp. is compared, in a detailed table, to the sympatric C. fragile Francey and C. lewisii D’Arcy, as well as the Venezuelan C. salicifolium Jacq.  It is depicted in a photographic image of the holotype.

Veldkamp, J. F. & C. Lut.  2009. Senecio valerianifolius Wolf ex Link (Compositae), an enigma reveiled.  Compositae Newslett. 47: 4–7.

The basic point of this article—that the authorship of S. valerianifolius is correctly “Link ex Spreng.”—seems to be old news, as Flora de Nicaragua had this right back in 2001.  Nonetheless, the evidence for the rejection of “Wolf ex Link” may now be categorized as unimpeachable, thanks to the second author’s sleuthing after rare 19th-century seed lists.  The authors take a small step backward by ascribing feminine gender to Erechtites (it is masculine, according to ICBN Art. 62.4).  But they do us all a service by providing the URL for the second author’s extremely useful seed-list database:


Wilmot-Dear, C. M., N. Acharya, T. I. Kravtsova & I. Friis.  2009. Pouzolzia rugulosa transferred from Boehmeria, and the distinction between Boehmeria and Pouzolzia (Urticaceae).  Edinburgh J. Bot. 66: 51–64.

The focus here is on the placement of a problematic Himalayan sp., but in the process “a revised set of anatomical and morphological characters is provided to distinguish between Boehmeria and Pouzolzia,” conveniently summarized in tabular form.  We assume these apply equally well to the New World members of these genera.

Wood, J. R. I.  2009. New names, combinations and synonyms in Justicia and Stenostephanus (Acanthaceae).  Kew Bull. 64: 49–55.

In his 1986 Flora costaricensis treatment of Acanthaceae, family specialist L. H. Durkee (GRI) used the name Chaetothylax leucanthus Leonard (based on a Colombian type) for what he judged to be the sole Costa Rican representative of its genus.  Subsequently, Chaetothylax was subsumed within Justicia as sect. Chaetothylax (Nees) V. A. W. Graham (1988).  In 1999, Durkee validated the combination Justicia rothschuhii (Lindau) Durkee [see The Cutting Edge 7(1): 6–7, Jan. 2000], based on Chaetothylax rothschuhii Lindau (typified by a Nicaraguan specimen), stating that the sp. “has also been collected in Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica.”  He went on to use the name Justicia rothschuhii in Flora de Nicaragua (2001) for a sp. ranging from “Guatemala a Costa Rica,” but did not include C. leucanthus in synonymy, or otherwise mention the name, in either publication.  However, the Acanthaceae account in the Catalogue of the vascular plants of Ecuador (1999), not involving Durkee, did cite Chaetothylax leucanthus as a synonym of the much older C. rothschuhii.  The author of the paper presently under consideration states that “all four species [of Chaetothylax] recognised by Leonard [in a treatment of Colombian spp. that omits C. rothschuhii] are very close and may represent a single species”; nonetheless, he goes ahead and validates new names in Justicia for all of them, while cautioning that this action “does not necessarily imply that the species have been carefully revised.”  Thus the taxon (whatever it may be) formerly known as Chaetothylax leucanthus abruptly becomes Justicia albicans J. R. I. Wood (the epithet leucantha being long preoccupied in Justicia).  This inexcusably long-winded review is predicated on the notion that a scenario exists in which J. albicans could become an operative name in Costa Rica, once it is established exactly how many spp. of sect. Chaetothylax occur in the country and the taxonomy of the group has been worked out over its entire geographic range.  Incidentally, none of the novelties in Stenostephanus (the new repository for spp. formerly included in Habracanthus and Hansteinia) concerns us.

Worberg, A., M. H. Alford, D. Quandt & T. Borsch.  2009. Huerteales sister to Brassicales plus Malvales, and newly circumscribed to include Dipentodon, Gerrardina, Huertea, Perrottetia, and Tapiscia.  Taxon 58: 468–478.

As suggested by its title, this paper is concerned principally with ordinal classification, of little significance to us.  We are more interested in the family placement of Huertea and Perrottetia, the only genera included in the study that occur in Costa Rica.  Though the former was traditionally classed in Staphyleaceae and the latter in Celastraceae, recent molecular evidence [see, e.g., The Cutting Edge 13(3): 14–15, Jul. 2006] has placed them close together, in the vicinity of the small Southeast Asian genera Dipentodon and TapisciaHuertea has been included of late in Tapisciaceae, a position that is upheld and continued here.  However, the authors do not firmly commit themselves on the fate of Perrottetia; provisionally (in their cladograms) they refer it to Dipentodontaceae, but note in their text that “the detailed relationships within the clade comprised of Perrottetia, Dipentodon, Huertea and Tapiscia await additional sequence data.”  Effectively, then, both Huertea and Perrottetia are in taxonomic limbo:  neither can remain in the family to which it has traditionally been assigned, but their final resting places are yet to be determined.  It seems most likely that they will either wind up in separate families, Tapisciaceae and Dipentodontaceae (respectively), or together in Dipentodontaceae (the older name).


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