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The Cutting Edge
Volume XX, Number 3, July 2013
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ARACEAE. During all of our 35 years of field experience in Costa Rica, we have never encountered a specimen of the notorious paleotropical genus Amorphophallus, even cultivated individually in a pot. However, this photo:
sent by our colleague José González (LSCR), of a plant growing outside near La Virgen de Sarapiquí, appears unequivocally to depict the Indomalesian Amorphophallus paeoniifolius (Dennst.) Nicolson, which is cultivated in its native land for its edible corms. How this sp. arrrived in La Virgen is anybody’s guess. We remain ignorant of the circumstances, e.g., as to whether just one individual is involved or an entire field, or whether the property is owned by a local farmer or an expatriate. José has vowed to prepare a proper herbarium specimen, but that will be a tall order!
ASTERACEAE. The African native Crassocephalum crepidioides (Benth.) S. Moore, a weedy herb superficially resembling an Emilia sp., was first reported from Costa Rica 11 years ago [see The Cutting Edge 9(3): 3, Jul. 2002]. Since that time, it has become fairly widespread in upland regions, including the Valle Central. However, J. González 11577 (LSCR), collected just two months ago, is the first record of the sp. from the Estación Biológica La Selva and, as far as we can determine, the first from below about 900 m in Costa Rica. The collector, La Selva resident botanist José González (LSCR), later ventured to the cobbly bed of the Río Sarapiquí at the base of the so-called “Avenida Marañón,” a site that tends to harbor ephemeral populations of weedy spp. sometimes representing new records for the reserve. On this occasion, although he paid dearly by being stung by a giant bumblebee, José reaped a bonanza: three additions to the florula of La Selva! Two of these are composites: Lepidaploa salzmannii (DC.) H. Rob. (J. González 11606), formerly known as Vernonia salzmannii DC. (or, before that, V. argyropappa H. Buek), and Sphagneticola trilobata (L.) Pruski (J. González 11596). Both of these are rather common in Costa Rica, and S. trilobata has been collected at least once in the general vicinity of La Selva. For José’s third novelty, see under “Verbenaceae,” this column.
CHRYSOBALANACEAE. Hirtella davisii Sandwith, a mainly South American sp. previously documented for Mesoamerica by just two Nicaraguan specimens from along the Río San Juan, can now be reported from Costa Rica—but not where the Nicaraguan records would suggest! The sole Costa Rican collection, Aguilar 1183, hails from the Península de Osa, and was determined by family specialist Ghillean T. Prance back in 2002 (we haven’t yet edited the Manual Chrysobalanaceae treatment, or we’d have caught onto this). Our material had been misidentified as Hirtella racemosa Lam., from which H. davisii differs (among other things) in its much larger size (ca. 25–30 m).
CRASSULACEAE. A specimen collected by Evelio Alfaro (#5070) from 2740–2800 m elevation on the Atlantic slope of Volcán Irazú was labeled “Asteraceae,” but appeared to be nothing more than a lump of dried-up mud. For that reason, INB herbarium personnel delivered the material to Manual co-PI Barry Hammel, wondering whether it was worth mounting. Investigating, Barry found nothing answering to the description of Asteraceae, but did encounter numerous flowering and fruiting strands of Crassula aquatica (L.) Schönland—the first record of this sp., rare in Costa Rica, from the Cordillera Central (all previous records were from the Cordillera de Talamanca, and at 3200 m and above).
MALPIGHIACEAE. As predicted by family specialist and contributor W. R. Anderson (MICH) in Manual Vol. 6 (2007: 305), Tetrapterys styloptera A. Juss., common in northern South America and known from both Nicaragua and Panama, has been found on the Atlantic slope of Costa Rica. The material (Janzen 22120, INB) was gathered in northern Cordillera de Guanacaste on the slopes of Volcán Orosí at Estación Quica and was identified by Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora. Further south on the Pacific side of Guanacaste Province, on the Península de Nicoya, Gómez-Laurito et al. 14019 (USJ), was recently identified by José Esteban Jiménez as Niedenzuella stannea (Griseb.) W. R. Anderson, becoming the first record of said sp. from that particular region.
MENISPERMACEAE. It has come belatedly to our attention that Aguilar 4545, from the Península de Osa, is the first Costa Rican record of Disciphania ernstii Eichler, a sp. otherwise known from eastern Panama to Bolivia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Paraguay. This specimen was actually determined by family specialist Rosa Ortiz (MO) back in 2006, prior to the publication (2007) of the Manual Menispermaceae treatment, but the information had evidently not become available in time for us to respond. The Costa Rican collection was determined by Rosa as D. e. var. ernstii, nearly as widespread as the sp. (though absent from Bolivia and Paraguay). See Osa Península resident botanist Reinaldo Aguilar´s recent photos of this species for further and beautiful details.
VERBENACEAE. Verbena litoralis Kunth is a familiar weedy herb in Costa Rica, but has rarely been collected below 600 m, and never from the Estación Biológica La Selva. That is, until José González recently scored it there at one of his favorite haunts, along the Río Sarapiquí (see under “Asteraceae,” this column). We expect that this population (J. González 11597) arose from propagules carried downslope by the river and will prove to be ephemeral, a regular phenomenon at the site in question.