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Volume XIX, Number 3, July 2012
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ACANTHACEAE. It looks like we’ll be having to add Acanthus montanus (Nees) T. Anderson to the Costa Rican flora on the basis of two collections (#2333 and #2334) by Carlos O. Morales (USJ) from the Pacific versant of the Valle Central, between Ciudad Colón and the Zona Protectora El Rodeo. Carlos reports that the plants formed a dense colony (including 17 flowering individuals and various immature ones) in a low thicket between a road and a cafetal, not far from a creek. Native to Africa, A. montanus is sometimes cultivated elsewhere as an ornamental; however, Carlos has never seen it in Costa Rican gardens, and did not encounter a single additional plant during a 30 km hike in the general vicinity of his collection site. Understandably, he wonders how the sp. arrived there!
COMBRETACEAE. In the 2010 Manual treatment of this family by Quírico Jiménez, a prior literature report of Terminalia buceras (L.) C. Wright (formerly Bucida buceras L.) from Parque Nacional Cahuita was dismissed as based on a misidentification of Campnosperma panamense Standl. (Anacardiaceae). Rather a coincidence, then, that the real T. buceras has now turned up at precisely the same site! Manual contributor Armando Estrada (CR) recently found it there, and not only that, discovered a 1973 collection (Hammitt 6) of the same sp. from Cahuita, overlooked by us, in the CR herbarium. Nonetheless, we stand by our allegation of confusion with Campnosperma panamense for the particular literature report in question; the two spp. are superficially similar and have similar Atlantic coastal distributions in southern Central America. Armando questions the indigenous status of T. buceras at Cahuita, as he has been able to locate just two large individuals.
EUPHORBIACEAE. The poorly known and seldom collected rain-forest tree Gymnanthes actinostemoides Müll. Arg. may now be reported tentatively from Costa Rica on the basis of Bello & Cruz 726 (a specimen we cannot presently track down), from 800 m elevation on the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Tilarán, in the Monteverde reserve. The previously documented geographic range of this sp. was curiously disjunct, in southern Mexico and eastern Panama. The MO duplicate of the Costa Rican specimen was identified by late family specialist Grady L. Webster (DAV) way back in 1992, but we suspect that it was still on loan to him at the time of his death (in 2005) and only recently found its way back to MO. In any case, Webster’s determination appears to have been entered into TROPICOS less than a year ago (Oct. 2011), by parties unknown, and was not available to us during the preparation of the Manual Euphorbiaceae treatment. The INB sheet (which we also cannot find) has been det. as Gymnanthes riparia (Schltdl.) Klotzsch, and was no doubt subsumed under that entry in the Manual Euphorbiaceae treatment by José González (LSCR). Even though Webster himself has used both names for Costa Rican material, we are skeptical that more than one Gymnanthes sp. is represented in the country. Until we find a specimen, the questions are: do those two names really represent different taxa and, if so, which is the correct one for the Costa Rican entity?
MELASTOMATACEAE. Miconia correae Almeda is a little-known sp. that has been regarded as restricted to western Panama, whence only the type gathering has emerged (so far as we are able to establish). Now it can be reported from Costa Rica, on the basis of a specimen collected in April by Manual contributor Eduardo Chacón (USJ) in the cloud forests of Cerro Zurquí (on the Continental Divide in the Cordillera Central). The identification of this specimen (E. Chacón 1347) has been confirmed via e-mail by family specialists Frank Almeda (CAS) and Ricardo Kriebel (NY). We thank and applaud Eduardo for discovery and photos, surely the first ever taken of M. correae in life. This just demonstrates that even right close to San José, much exploration yet needs be done in these rich forests.
POACEAE. Manual correspondent and former MO associate Neil Snow, now director of the Montana Natural Heritage Program in Helena, recently visited the herbarium at Montana State University, where he happened upon an intriguing Costa Rican specimen in a taxon that he monographed, Leptochloa s. l. (Poaceae). The specimen in question, W. E. Booth CR115 (MONT), was collected in 1964 in a “boggy opening,” presumably along the Carretera Interamericana, “about 20 miles South” of Cartago at an unspecified elevation. It has been tentatively identified by Neil as Leptochloa panicea (Retz.) Ohwi subsp. mucronata (Michx.) Nowack which, though widespread in the New World and known from both Central and South America, has never been reliably reported from Costa Rica. This taxon would now be called Dinebra panicea (Retz.) P. N. Peterson & N. Snow subsp. mucronata (Michx.) P. M. Peterson & N. Snow, according to a paper that has just appeared on which Neil is a coauthor [see “Peterson” et al. under “Germane Literature,” this issue]. We continue to be surprised by the existence of Costa Rican material in herbaria where we would never think to look, and are glad to know of this particular repository (it seems that Booth was associated in some way with the Organization for Tropical Studies). Let us also take this opportunity to congratulate Neil on his new position!
RUBIACEAE. A specimen (#11475) collected by Manual co-PI Mike Grayum from a rich, moist forest in the valley of the Río Cuajiniquil, near the base of the Península de Santa Elena, had us all stumped. Though originally determined as Randia monantha Benth., it differed from other material of that sp. in several aspects, most notably its arborescent habit and virtually sessile leaves. Manual co-PI Barry Hammel now appears to have resolved the dilemma: while working in the CR herbarium, he happened upon a Nicaraguan collection of Randia nicaraguensis Lorence & Dwyer, and the match was made! Tentatively, at least. In the bargain, Barry also discovered a second (and earlier) Costa Rican specimen of the same entity, Gómez-Laurito 13135 (from north of Puerto Soley). Our gain is Nicaragua’s loss, as this sp. was one of the relatively few (in any genus) considered endemic to that country.