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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 VIII, Number 4, October 2001

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

SEASON'S PICK: Plocosperma buxifolium

Plocosperma buxifolium      Plocosperma buxifolium

This season's pick is thanks to Manual co-editor Nelson Zamora and his participation in the summer OTS Systematics course (led once more by the undaunted ecologist/taxonomist team of Brad Boyle and Robbin Moran) on their stay at Palo Verde. We first laid eyes on this perplexing and little known species almost 11 years ago, when Nelson brought in a sterile specimen (Zamora 1563--to our knowledge, the first Costa Rican collection), also from Palo Verde--all of the five currently known Costa Rican collections are from dry forest, limestone bluffs of Palo Verde and the nearby Lomas Barbudal. Nelson informs that knowledge of the existence of this species in Costa Rica goes back much further, at least to ca. 1984 when contemporary dean of Costa Rican dendrologists, Luis Poveda, pointed the plant out to him on a field trip to Palo Verde. Still, in 1990, we were intrigued, could not place it to family. A few weeks later parataxonomist Ulisis Chavarría brought in a fruiting specimen (Chavarrķa 193), which, for its comose seeds, made Apocynaceae or Asclepiadaceae seem more likely than our first estimates of Verbenaceae or related. Back then, before we were hooked on Internet, scan and digital camara technology, we eventually got a blurry, black and white fax of it to Asclepiadaceae and Nicaragua specialist, MO colleague Doug Stevens, who readily identified it as the problematic Plocosperma buxifolium Benth. of the problematic Loganiaceae. The species, relatively common and abundantly collected in Nicaragua, is now known from Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

Recently, with the break-up of Loganiaceae s. l. by way of molecular and other phylogenetic studies, (see, e.g., Backlund et al. [2000], as reported in the Edge 7(3): 4, July 2000) the species is generally considered, once again, to belong in its own monotypic family, Plocospermataceae. Currently its ordenal affinities are either undefined (see Backlund et al., loc. cit.) or somewhere within the Lamiales (see Stevens, P. F. 2001 and references therein). Flora of Nicaragua and our current Manual lists treat it in the Loganiaceae, s. l.

Photo credits go to Nelson Zamora.

 

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