Rubiaceae: Osa pulchra
Approximately 9000 species of flowering plants are now known from Costa Rica. Most of these species are known also from adjacent countries or even from far away tropical countries, but a few, like this one are known only from Costa Rica. These are called ENDEMIC species.
Osa pulchra, a member of the Rubiaceae (coffee family) is one of Costa Rica's most spectacular and rare endemic species of flowering plants. The genus, named ofter the Osa peninsula, was formally described in 1979, and has only this one species. Pulchra, of course, means beautiful. Until recently, the species was known from only one small population of about 8 plants on private property not far from Rincón de Osa. Fortunately, the owners and others in the area are aware of the uniqueness of the species, protect it and have it carefully marked for visitors. In November of 1996 another small population was found on the Atlantic lowlands, near Puerto Viejo de Limón. Except for its huge flowers and elongate green, capsular fruits, Osa pulchra looks very much like a coffe plant and would seem to be an excellent canditate for cultivation for tropical gardens and green houses.
© Barry Hammel 1996
Left & right hand photos by Larry Gilbert, middle photo by the author.