Thomas B. Croat, P. A. Schulze Curator of Botany, concentrates on the study of neotropical Araceae. Because of his efforts, the Missouri Botanical Garden has become a principal center of research in Araceae, with the largest collection of herbarium material and the most species-rich collection of living material in the world. A number of major revisions have been completed by Croat, including Anthurium and Philodendron for Central America, and complete revisions of Syngonium and Anthurium section Pachyneurium, all funded by the National Science Foundation. Floristic accounts for the Araceae have been completed for Nicaragua, Venezuela, Central French Guiana, Paraguay, Guyana, and Hawaii, and florulas have been prepared for several species-rich tropical areas, including La Planada (Nariño) and Bajo Calima (Valle) in Colombia. The latter florula project was funded by the National Geographic Society. In the summer of 2000 Croat collected with Marcela Mora in Cabo Corrientes, a remote, coastal region of Chocó Department in Colombia. He moved on to collect in the Lita-San Lorenzo area of Ecuador, for a project that is funded by the National Geographic Society. The last part of his collecting trip was to Bolivia, where he collected in the Yungas, Sapecho, and the Madidi National Park.
Revisions of the genera Rhodospatha and Dieffenbachia of Central America, both National Science Foundation-sponsored projects, are nearing completion. A preliminary revision of South American Dieffenbachia has been completed.Floristic accounts are being prepared for Bolivia, Ecuador, Veracruz State of Mexico, and the Guyana region. Field work for a revision of Anthurium section Porphyrochitonium has already begun and, in collaboration with Richard Mansell (University of South Florida), work is progressing on a revision of Anthurium section Semaeophyllium. Other MO staff involved with Araceae include Michael Grayum, who has revised the Araceae for the Manual to the Plants of Costa Rica, as well as Philodendron subgenus Pteromischum. Guanghua Zhu has revised Dracontium. The living collection of more than 6,500 Araceae, managed by horticulturist Cheryl Neuman, along with its database, is the source of much new information on the biology and taxonomy of this diverse family. Emily Orling is Croat’s research assistant.
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News from MO 2001 was created by Kathy Hurlbert, Leslie Miller, Eloise Cannady and Mary Merello (October 2001) and placed on the MOBOT webserver 1/22/02.