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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume X, Number 2, April 2003

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

This small, caryophyllalean family is represented in Costa Rica by three spp. of Anredera, including the exotic A. cordifolia (Ten.) Steenis, conspicuously naturalized in the Valle Central. The two native spp., A. ramosa (Moq.) Eliasson and A. vesicaria (Lam.) C. F. Gaertn., are both very local and rarely collected. William Burger's Flora costaricensis treatment (Fieldiana, Bot. n. s., 13: 222, 227. 1983) included only A. ramosa [as Boussingaultia ramosa (Moq.) Hemsl.].

CAPRIFOLIACEAE. Alexánder Rodríguez (INB).
Caprifoliaceae of yore lives on in the Manual, Adoxaceae and the like notwithstanding. Just three genera and six spp. are recorded from Costa Rica: Lonicera (1 sp.), Sambucus (2 spp.), and Viburnum (3 spp.). Lonicera japonica Thunb. ex Murray (our only member of Caprifoliaceae s. str.) and Sambucus mexicana C. Presl ex DC. are both known only from cultivation, while Viburnum venustum C. V. Morton is the sole Costa Rican endemic. Sambucus canadensis L. and S. mexicana are maintained as distinct spp., contrary to other recent treatments [see The Cutting Edge 2(2): 4-5, Apr. 1995], with compelling reasons given.

This is not a new submission, but rather a wholesale revision of Chico's original manuscript [see The Cutting Edge 5(3): 2, Jul. 1998]. The latter account recognized just four spp. of Clethra (the only genus) in Costa Rica: C. gelida Standl., C. mexicana A. DC., C. pyrogena Sleumer and C. suaveolens Turcz. The sp.-total for the country now balloons to nine, thanks to Chico's improved understanding of the genus, stimulated in part by previously overlooked or recent literature, especially a 1996 University of Wisconsin master's thesis by Luz María González-Villarreal entitled Clethra (Clethraceae) section Cuellaria in Mexico: taxonomy, ecology and biogeography. Three of the four original spp. remain substantially intact (although C. gelida and C. pyrogena can no longer be claimed as Costa Rican endemics). However, Chico's inclusive concept of C. mexicana dissolves into various more narrowly defined entities including, in Costa Rica, C. costaricensis Britton and C. lanata M. Martens & Galeotti (the name Clethra mexicana itself is no longer used for Costa Rican material). Also added to the flora are Clethra consimilis Sleumer (including C. coloradensis C. W. Ham.), C. hondurensis Britton, C. licanioides Standl. & Steyerm., and C. talamancana C. W. Ham. (the last being our sole endemic). Clethra is mainly montane in Costa Rica; all of its spp. are restricted to elevations above 700 m, except for C. costaricensis and C. hondurensis, both of which descend to below 100 m in the Sarapiquí lowlands and elsewhere.

This small group of woody, mainly epiphytic plants has (like Paulownia) been kicked back and forth between Bignoniaceae and Scrophulariaceae. Lately, however, it has come to be accepted as a family in its own right [e.g., by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group; see The Cutting Edge 6(1): 5, Jan. 1999], and was already so treated by William Burger (F) and Kerry Barringer (BKL) in Flora costaricensis (Fieldiana, Bot. n. s., 41: 69-77. 2000). Two of the four genera occur in Costa Rica: Gibsoniothamnus, with six spp., and Schlegelia, with four. Two spp. of Gibsoniothamnus are undescribed and given provisional names; these are also the only spp. of the family indicated as Costa Rican endemics (although each of the other Gibsoniothamnus spp. is shared only with Panama). The four Schlegelia spp. are all comparatively widespread. With the addition of G. grandiflorus A. H. Gentry & Barringer and the two undescribed spp., Chico has doubled the number of Gibsoniothamnus spp. attributed to Costa Rica by Burger and Barringer; otherwise, the two versions are in substantial overall agreement.

STERCULIaceae. Alexánder Rodríguez (INB).
Malvaceae in the strict, traditional sense will prevail in the Manual, in all of its paraphyletic glory, with Bombacaceae, Sterculiaceae, and Tiliaceae each dealt with separately. That said, Alex's Sterculiaceae account, hot off the presses, treats 32 spp. in 11 genera, of which Melochia (with 7 native spp.) is the most diverse, followed by Theobroma (5 spp.) and Sterculia (4 spp.). Three spp. are endemic to Costa Rica: Ayenia mastatalensis Cristóbal & N. Zamora, Pterygota excelsa (Standl. & L. O. Williams) Kosterm., and Sterculia allenii E. L. Taylor (the last still undescribed, and the only provisionally named sp. in the treatment). One sp., the widespread Melochia kerriifolia Triana & Planch., is included hypothetically, and the Old World genus Dombeya makes the cut by virtue of the cultivated D. wallichii (Lindl.) K. Schum. Theobroma bicolor Bonpl. and the commercial T. cacao L. are both arguably indigenous in Costa Rica.

VITACEAE. J. F. Morales (INB).
This contribution benefits greatly from the recent Flora Neotropica Monographs installment by Julio Antonio Lombardi [see The Cutting Edge 8(2): 10, Apr. 2001]. Three genera and 17 spp. are here treated as indigenous to Costa Rica, with a single sp. each in Ampelocissus and Vitis and all the rest in Cissus. One sp. (of Cissus) is undescribed and provisionally named, and is also the only member of the family indicated as endemic to Costa Rica. The commercial grape, Vitis vinifera L., occasionally planted on a small scale, is mentioned in the generic discussion for Vitis.

This smallish, mainly neotropical family of woody plants is represented in Costa Rica by two of its eight genera, Qualea and Vochysia. Four spp. of Vochysia are recorded from the country, but just one of Qualea, the latter being undescribed and named provisionally. All of our spp. are restricted to the lowlands (below 1000 m), and none is endemic.


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