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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XXIV, Number 4, October 2017

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

BULLDOG BONANZA. We used to be intimately in touch with goings-on in the Monteverde region, back in the days when William Haber was collecting actively, in conjunction with the Manual project, and visiting the Valle Central on a regular basis. Not so much anymore. We were not even aware that, in 2009, Bill had donated his entire private herbarium to the University of Georgia (UGA) Costa Rica, the campus of which is located conveniently near him in the small community of San Luis. Based on the data available to us, Bill began collecting plants in Costa Rica (at first on a desultory basis) in 1973, and by 1998 (when he apparently ceased collecting) had amassed more than 12,000 numbers—the vast majority from the Monteverde region, where he has been resident for several decades. Assuming that the UGA herbarium inherited even half that total, it is now easily large enough to qualify for an official Index herbariorum acronym. No such acronym exists, as of this writing, but Manual collaborator Mario Blanco (USJ), to whom we owe this information, reports that "UGACR" is now being used informally (though it seems unlikely to ever become "official," as the acronym of the main UGA herbarium in Athens, Georgia, is "GA"). The Haber specimens are being mounted by student volunteers organized by Dr. Ann Willyard (HXC), with guidance by Resident Naturalist Riley Fortier (who seems poised to follow in Haber's footsteps) and Herbarium Coordinator Lucas Ramírez. Hunker down, y'all! For more information (and plenty of photos!), check out the following Web site:


Judging from one of the photos, it would appear that the new herbarium has also received material of Valerie J. Dryer, who collected an important series of specimens at Monteverde during 1976–1978.

CHINA WINDFALL. Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora describes the XIX International Botanical Congress in Shenzhen, China (see this column in our last issue), as "increible" and "positivo." Nearly 7000 botanists attended, and (in the "positivo" column) Nelson was able to secure funding for two additional years of field work in the Área de Conservación Guanacaste, where he has been making important new discoveries (see, e.g., "Fabaceae," under "Leaps and Bounds").

LANDMARK PUBLICATION. Hot off the presses: Volume 4 of the popular field-guide series Árboles de Costa Rica/Trees of Costa Rica, initiated 42 years ago. Authored by Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora, together with Quírico Jiménez and series co-founder Luis J. Poveda, and featuring illustrations by Claudia Aragón, Vol. 4 (dedicated to the late Jorge León) comprises 571 pages and treats 238 spp. of dicot trees with simple leaves, in 18 families ranging alphabetically from Fabaceae to Malpighiaceae. Just 39 of those spp. are Costa Rican endemics, meaning that this work will prove useful throughout Central America. Each sp. account presents descriptive, distributional, and other information in strictly parallel form (to facilitate comparison), accompanied by a diagnostic illustration and distribution map. At the end of the volume are found 138 color photos of selected spp. taken in the field. The family with the largest number of spp. treated in this volume is Lauraceae (124 spp.). We calculate that about three more volumes will be needed to complete this work.

BEEN HERE, DONE THAT. Sayonara to our good friend (and Manual collaborator) Daniel Santamaría and his better half Laura Lagomarsino, who recently departed MO for the slightly more tropical clime of Baton Rouge, LA. Didn't they just get here [see this column in The Cutting Edge 22(4), Oct. 2015]? We will miss them both, but expect they will return from time to time. Laura will henceforth be in charge of the herbarium at LSU (the acronym of the herbarium, as well as the university), and we wish her the best in her new position!

AND BACK AGAIN. Manual co-PI Barry Hammel and his better three-quarters Isabel Pérez arrived in St. Louis last Friday afternoon (6 October), and will be on campus at MO (mostly in the Monsanto Building) looking at various genera of Acanthaceae and other families for the upcoming Manual Vol. 4 until 30 October.

SPEAKING OF WIND. And rain: Hurricane Nate, which started more or less in Costa Rica as a tropical storm and later became one of this season's mildest hurricanes, did cause much damage in Tiquicia—ironically, much more than the immediately preceding ones that wreaked so much havoc further north. As of this writing, passage along the Carretera Interamericana between Paso Real and Palmar Norte, in the canyon of the Río Grande de Térraba, is blocked; entire sections of that highway were eroded away by the flooding waters of the Térraba. Likewise, parts of the same highway over Cerro de La Muerte fell to landslides, as did parts of it along the section known as "Cambronero," between San Ramón and Esparza. Anyone planning collecting trips to Costa Rica would be well-advised not do them in October! Fortunately, none of the major herbaría was affected by any more than a drippy cieling (already repaired), and as far as we know, all of our CR colleagues are safe, sound and dry.


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