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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 XX, Number 4, October 2013

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

AMARANTHACEAE. While rummaging through Costa Rican collections of the common understory shrub Pleuropetalum sprucei (Hook. f.) Standl. at MO, we were at once distracted by G. Herrera et. al. 8556, from 1350 m elevation on the Caribbean slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca, a clearly misidentified specimen, remarkable for its glomerulate-spicate inflorescences, and representing a sp. we had never seen before. We realized immediately that, if this specimen were correctly placed in Pleuropetalum (a genus of just three spp.), it must certainly embody a new sp. Working quickly, we came upon a second Costa Rican specimen (A. Rodríguez 8338; identified only as “Pleuropetalum sp.”) of the same entity, from the same region, and eventually found matching and clearly conspecific material among the South American Amaranthaceae indets. The latter discovery motivated us to consult the Flora of Ecuador Amaranthaceae treatment (1987), by Uno Eliasson (GB), by means of which we were able very quickly to determine our mystery “Pleuropetalum” as Celosia grandifolia Moq. (to paraphrase Ron Liesner, it’s easy to find a new sp. when you’re in the wrong genus!). Prior to this experience, we had been unaware of the close similarity between Celosia and Pleuropetalum which, as it turns out, cannot be distinguished consistently by any single character. Considering that its stronghold lies in Ecuador, Peru, and southeastern Brazil, Celosia grandifolia is a bold new addition to the Costa Rican flora—though not quite so bold as we had imagined, having been collected in western Panama as long ago as 1979 by none other than Manual co-PI Barry Hammel!

FLACOURTIACEAE. Okay, Salicaceae. Be that way. Moving right along, Manual contributor for said family José González (LSCR) reports a new addition to the florula of the Estación Biológica La Selva in the guise of Xylosma hispidula Standl., collected in some undisclosed corner of the property by Enrique Salicetti (#486). This sp. is not entirely unexpected, as it has been collected in the general region (e.g., at the private Rara Avis reserve). This becomes the second Xylosma sp. for La Selva, joining X. chlorantha Donn. Sm. (which itself is vanishingly rare there).

MORACEAE. The name Perebea xanthochyma H. Karst. (type from Colombia) has been much misapplied in Central American regional floras, especially (though not exclusively) to the sp. known correctly (e.g., in the Manual) as P. hispidula Standl. The geographic range of the real P. xanthochyma has thus become somewhat obfuscated by misidentifications. However, Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora is confident that a recent collection from the Bribrí region made by distinguished ethnobotanist (and peripatetic collector) Rafael Ocampo is the real deal, and the first official Costa Rican record of P. xanthochyma (the leaves of which can attain 50 cm in length!). We say “official,” because Nelson recalls having seen similar material, from the same region, brought in by a CATIE student several years ago. And it don’t stop there, for Perebea: on a recent excursion to the poorly botanized Cutris region, in the northern Llanura de San Carlos, Nelson encountered a sizeable population of Perebea guianensis Aubl., previously known in Costa Rica only from the Atlantic slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca (which had been the northernmost station for the sp.). Collectors working in southeastern Nicaragua should be on the lookout for this! See Season's Pick, this issue for footage of this latter sp. and others from interesting islands in the sea of pineapple and bananna plantations flooding the Llanuras de San Carlos.

MYRTACEAE. In the family discussion of the Manual treatment of Myrtaceae (2007) coordinated by Fred Barrie (MO), mention was made of a sterile collection from the Península de Osa that bore a resemblance to the Guatemalan Chamguava musarum (Standl. & Steyerm.) Landrum (representing a genus not otherwise recorded from Costa Rica). Recently, four additional Costa Rican collections—all likewise sterile—have been determined as C. musarum by family specialist Bruce Holst (SEL), a coauthor of the Manual treatment. These are: Kriebel 4621 (INB), A. Rodríguez 2069 (INB), A. Rodríguez & Lépiz 9947 (INB), and A. Rodríguez et al. 6122 (INB), with a composite range (in Manualese) of “Bosque muy húmedo, 100–600+ m; vert. Carib. Cord. de Guanacaste, N Cord. de Talamanca (P.N. Barbilla), Llanura de Los Guatusos.” The specimens in question had been previously identified as either Calyptranthes sp. (Myrtaceae) or Mouriri exilis Gleason (Melastomataceae), though none factored into the Manual accounts of those taxa. In fact, Manual co-PI Barry Hammel had just recently decided to shovel all these specimens (one of which had been hastily excluded from Myrtaceae by Bruce on a previous visit to INB) into Mouriri exilis, but when Bruce showed up with the OTS course this past July, Hammel dug them out and requested a second opinion. As correspondent with, and reviewer of a Brenesia manuscript by, Rafael Acuña, Hammel is privy to more information about the genus Chamguava in Costa Rica. For now, all we can say is: stay tuned, there is more to come!

OLACACEAE. Or Schoepfiaceae, if you really must. It turns out that J. F. Morales & Hammel 8778 (INB), collected at ca. 1700 m elevation in the Cerro Caraigres vicinity and originally determined as “Celastraceae,” is correctly a sp. of Schoepfia. But while it approaches S. schreberi J. F. Gmel., it differs notably from that sp. in having always solitary, subsessile inflorescences and orange, much longer (ca. twice as long) corollas. Moreover, it is a shrub just 1.5 m tall, growing at an elevation ca. 700 above the highest yet recorded for S. schreberi in Costa Rica (based on data superseding the 2007 Manual treatment). We are tentatively calling this thing “Schoepfia aff. schreberi.” Apprised of this recent development, the principal collector observed that, on his first visit (in 1995) to the Caraigres region, he gathered 215 numbers in three days, which to date have yielded 31 new spp. or country records! A modern-day record of some description, we would submit.

SAPINDACEAE. Cupania scrobiculata Rich. is a widespread sp. that had been recorded both to the north (Mexico to Nicaragua) and south (Panama and South America) of Costa Rica. However, apart from a single, dubiously determined flowering specimen, we could find no Costa Rican vouchers for this sp. This situation is now resolved, and C. scrobiculata can be confidently added to the Costa Rican flora (in the nick of time for Manual Vol. 7!), on the basis of a recent collection with mature fruits gathered by Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora in the Boca Tapada region (Llanura de San Carlos). Nelson had been advocating the inclusion of this sp., and now we have the requisite proof! See Season's Pick, this issue for footage of this sp.

VERBENACEAE. La Flora Digital de La Selva project seeks to exhaustively catalogue every plant sp. occurring on the property, including the cultivated ones, and in that vein even an addition as mundane as Duranta erecta L. is cause for celebration (especially as the Law of Diminishing Returns takes hold). This new find (vouchered by J. González 11647) was made in front of a house on the La Flaminea Annex. Another one bites the dust! In likewise fashion, the Manual attempts to include exotic spp. that are commercially cultivated and or apparently naturalized, and to that end we must report Vitex trifolia L. var. subtrisecta (Kuntze) Moldenke (nowadays classed in Lamiaceae) from near the southern tip of the Península de Nicoya. The voucher (Hammel et al. 26632, INB) was collected from a low shrub spilling out onto the beach, confusable as part of the native vegetation near the fisherman’s wharf at Malpaís.



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