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Volume XVI, Number 4, October 2009
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Monolena aff. grandiloba R. H. Warner (Melastomataceae) beats heavy competition to win this quarter’s nod for the photo essay.
The mainly epiphytic genus Monolena is quite rare in Costa Rica, where it has been known only by a few collections of M. primuliflora Hook. f. from along the Río Banano in the Caribbean foothills of the Cordillera de Talamanca. The new population and additional sp. is from Costa Rica's Pacific slope, along waterfalls and on tree trunks at a beautiful spot along the Río Damas, where it tumbles down from the Fila Chonta area just north of Puerto Quepos. We learned of this population in the most round-about way imaginable. Our guide Jeff Anderson, a palm enthusiast and resident of the Quepos area for about three years now, had posted a series of images on PalmTalk.org, which our globe-trotting Marantaceae contributor Helen Kennedy (UBC) came across while on tour in Singapore and thereabouts. Noticing among Jeff's photos a Calathea very much like a rare Costa Rican endemic she is in the process of describing, Helen alerted co-conspirator Barry Hammel to the possibility of a new site for that sp. Hammel quickly became interested in visiting the site, as much to collect and examine material of a Monolena sp., also evident among Jeff's photos, as to check out the Calathea.
Indeed, the Monolena population was splendid, and we were lucky enough to find plants in flower and fruit. Taxonomy in the genus is difficult, but from details of the leaves and flowers, it appears to be at least related to, if not conspecific with, the Panamanian M. grandiloba.
We thank Jeff for his discovery and for taking us to the site, as well as property owner Teresa Bueno and her assistant Christiane Kirsch for making it all possible.
By-the-way, the Calathea did turn out to be Helen's new species.