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The Cutting Edge Volume VII, Number 2, April 2000
News and Notes | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature
ANNONACEAE. Porcelia, a new genus for Costa Rica, was the most exciting discovery of the collecting excursion to the Térraba region (see under "News and Notes"). A fruiting collection was made in the hills along the Río Grande de Térraba, in the vicinity of Chánguena. Although the sp. determination remains to be confirmed (flowering material is still needed), the most parsimonious assumption would be that the Costa Rican population represents Porcelia magnifructa (Schery) R. E. Fr., heretofore considered endemic to Panama, and the only Mesoamerican member of the genus.
ASCLEPIADACEAE. Strangely, two new Costa Rican records in the genus Marsdenia, both from northern Prov. Guanacaste, emerged from MO mounting in the same week. Marsdenia gualanensis Donn. Sm. (Freddy Quesada 143; originally determined as Cynanchum racemosum Jacq.) was previously recorded from Oaxaca to Nicaragua, while Marsdenia rotheana Woodson (M. M. Chavarría 372) was known only by one collection from Prov. Coclé, Panama, and another from Depto. Chocó, Colombia. These reports are courtesy of MO curator and Manual contributor W. D. Stevens.
CELASTRACEAE. Espinoza 2404 and Hammel 22045, both from Estación Maritza in the Cordillera de Guanacaste, are the first Costa Rican records of the smallish, pantropical genus Elaeodendron, sometimes included in the otherwise South African Cassine. The specific identity of our material is still uncertain (the various candidate spp. look more or less alike); however, the likeliest possibility is Elaeodendron xylocarpum (Vent.) DC. (AKA Cassine xylocarpa Vent.), already known from Belize and Panama. A single, large (ca. 20 m) tree was discovered during the systematics course reported in our last issue. Avid Guanacaste plantsmen Roberto Espinoza and Felipe Chavarría will continue monitoring this individual in hopes of garnering a collection with mature fruits.
CYPERACEAE. The seasonal ponds at Cañas Gordas, at ca. 1170 m elevation in the Fila Costeña just a stone's throw from the Panamanian border, were visited more than a century ago by Henri Pittier. Many of the spp. collected by Pittier from these ponds have seldom, if ever, been recollected from Costa Rica. On a recent pilgrimage to this hallowed site, Jorge Gómez-Laurito and Rodolfo Ortiz (USJ) gathered yet another country record: Fuirena incompleta Nees (13226), a widespread neotropical sp. previously reported from both Honduras and Panama.
DIOSCOREACEAE. A supposed new sp. of Dioscorea, based on a pistillate collection (Araya & Corrales 458) from the Refugio Nacional de Fauna Silvestre Barra del Colorado, turns out to be the recently described Dioscorea davidse O. Téllez. The latter was founded on a single staminate collection from Cerro Brewster, in east-central Panama. Thanks to Oswaldo Téllez (MEXU) for pointing out (in his review of the manuscript!) the similarity between Manual artist Silvia Troyo's illustration of our proposed new sp. and that of D. davidsei (Novon 7: 209. 1997). The fruits of the Araya collection (immature, but with seeds borne just above the center and near the apex of the fruit) appear to confirm Téllez's tentative placement of this sp. in Dioscorea subgen. Helmia (Kunth) Benth.
FLACOURTIACEAE. In a stunning turn of events, several mystery collections made by Armando Estrada (CR) from the coastal hills between the Reserva Biológica Carara and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio (see under "News and Notes") have now been positively identified as Chiangiodendron mexicanum T. Wendt--described just 12 years ago as a new genus and sp., and until now known only from the Uxpanapa region of southern Mexico. Manual co-PI Barry Hammel had skeptically keyed Armando's material to Flacourtiaceae tribe Pangieae, an Old World taxon, before stumbling onto Mexican collections of C. mexicanum in the MO herbarium. The letter-perfect gestalt match was cemented when Barry learned that Chiangiodendron had already been recognized by its author, Manual correspondent Tom Wendt (TEX), as the first New World member of tribe Pangieae!
MALPIGHIACEAE. Manual contributor William R. Anderson (MICH) showed us yet another new country record, Tetrapterys mucronata Cav., and explained how the sp. clearly differs (smaller, simpler inflorescences with smaller bracts, etc.) from the sp. (T. discolor G. Mey.) to which it had (at INB) been wrongly assigned. The specimen, K. Flores 83, is from Los Chiles, way up near the Nicaraguan border, and yet this is a sp. widespread in northern South America, and not previously reported from north of Panama. And this in just under the wire: Alexander ('Popeye') Rodríguez produced a specimen collected at the Reserva Biológica Carara by fellow bioprospector Luis Acosta--just some leaves and one fallen flower, but enough for wizard Don William, who was thrilled to have his prediction that Mascagnia mesoamericana W. R. Anderson would turn up in Costa Rica (see Contr. Univ. Michigan Herb. 16: 105. 1987) finally confirmed. By coincidence, Anderson and Manual co-PI Barry Hammel left shortly thereafter on a previously planned trip to Carara, and hope to pick up more material.
MALVACEAE. The Térraba excursion (see under "News and Notes") also netted Abutilon giganteum (Jacq.) Sweet, a white-flowered sp. that has been much confused with the yellow-flowered A. divaricatum Turcz. Our crew discovered a population of A. giganteum near the Porcelia site (see under Annonaceae). It had previously been collected in both Nicaragua and Panama. Thanks to Manual contributor Paul Fryxell (TEX) for helping nail down this determination.
SANTALACEAE. No, we have not yet embraced the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group's circumscription of Santalaceae as including both Eremolepidaceae and Viscaceae [see The Cutting Edge 6(1): 5--6, Jan. 1999]. Pinch yourself: a bona fide member of the sandalwood family, sensu stricto, has surfaced in Costa Rica! While out seeking flowering material of the mystery Canellaceae in the central Pacific lowlands (see under "News and Notes"), Manual co-PI's Barry Hammel and Nelson Zamora zeroed in on a medium-sized tree of the same general aspect, but which proved to be something else entirely. After much head-scratching and e-mailing, their collection was abruptly and positively identified as an unknown (and probably new) sp. of Acanthosyris, a small and obscure genus previously known only from South America. The clincher was a recent paper (Novon 8: 84--86. 1998), by MO curators Carmen Ulloa and Peter Jørgensen, featuring a thorough description and detailed illustration of a new Ecuadorean Acanthosyris sp. Carmen and Peter later became more directly involved, in confirming our determination from a scanned image of fresh material. Apart from a somewhat dubious record of Comandra pallida A. DC. from near Managua, this is the first report of Santalaceae s. str. from the Mesoamerican region. Soberingly, but a single tree is presently known, growing at the very edge of a road currently being widened by the Costa Rican electric company.
SCROPHULARIACEAE. Gómez-Laurito & Ortiz 13362 (MO, USJ), from near sea level at Playa Zancudo, south of Golfito, is a Lindernia sp. not heretofore reported from Costa Rica. We are pretty sure it is Lindernia microcalyx Pennell & Stehlé, if that sp. can be maintained as separate from the Old World L. rotundifolia (L.) Alston. We are grateful to Jorge Gómez-Laurito (USJ) for communicating this discovery.