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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XIV, Number 2, April 2007

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

FABACEAE/FABOIDEAE.  During his recent stint at MO [see The Cutting Edge 14(1): 1, Jan. 2007], Manual co-PI and Fabaceae specialist Nelson Zamora inevitably made several interesting herbarium discoveries, two of which were reported in this column in our last issue.  Here are two others, both resulting from our National Geographic Society-funded explorations of the Península de Santa Elena [see, e.g., The Cutting Edge 12(1): 1–2, Jan. 2005]:  Chaetocalyx scandens (L.) Urb., a yellow-flowered vine widespread in the Neotropics, was collected several times on the Península, from nearly sea level to 600 m elevation on the summit ridge.  Our material, comprising the first Costa Rican records of this sp., matches C. s. var. pubescens (DC.) Rudd, as characterized in the Flora de Nicaragua.  The only other Chaetocalyx sp. occurring in Costa Rica, C. latisiliqua (Poir.) Benth. ex Hemsl., is found mainly in tropical wet forest in the southern Pacific region.  Nelson’s other find was Crotalaria pilosa Mill., not a country record, but a northward range extension.  This sp., also wide-ranging in the Neotropics, had never been found north of the Acosta region in the northern Cordillera de Talamanca.

POACEAE.  Walter Bien (Drexel University), Ted Gordon (Philadelphia Botanical Club), and Gerry Moore (BKL) discovered a population of the adventive Asian grass Microstegium vimineum (Trin.) A. Camus in Parque Nacional Arenal during a visit there last month.  Several patches were found growing along the disturbed edges of one of the hiking trails.  According to our best sources, this would be a new record for both the sp. and genus, not only for Costa Rica, but for the entire Mesoamerican region.  Microstegium was not mentioned in Flora mesoamericana Vol. 6, and is vouchered for the Neotropics at MO by a single specimen (undetermined to sp.), that being from Puerto Rico.  Gerry (who communicated this news) characterizes M. vimineum as “one of our worst invasive plants” in much of the eastern United States, but this must also be a fairly recent development, as it was omitted from Gray’s manual (1950).  We are reminded that discoveries of this sort are most likely to be made by individuals already familiar with the sp. in question.  But not always!  A year ago, INBio wunderkind Daniel Santamaría twice collected an unfamiliar dwarf, bambusoid grass that has just now been identified as Raddiella esenbeckii (Steud.) C. E. Calderón & Soderstr., new to Costa Rica (as to both the sp. and genus).  Though widespread in South America, R. esenbeckii had been unknown in Mesoamerica beyond central Panama.  Daniel found it growing in savannas at 900–1250 m elevation on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca above Potrero Grande (Valle de Coto Brus).  The initial determination was by INBio volunteer Ted Bradley, confirmed by MO specialist Gerrit Davidse from a scanned image.

SIPARUNACEAE.  Two collections by former parataxonomist Edgar Mora (#’s 843 and 936) appear to represent the first Costa Rican records for Siparuna cristata (Poepp. & Endl.) A. DC., previously reported from Panama to Peru, the Guianas, and Brazil.  Both specimens hail from 300–500 m elevation in Parque Nacional Barbilla, on the Atlantic slope of the northern Cordillera de Talamanca.  According to Manual Siparunaceae contributor Jorge Gómez-Laurito (USJ), whom we thank for this report, the Costa Rican material is somewhat unusual in having just six or seven stamens per flower (vs. 10–18 elsewhere).

TURNERACEAE.  While collaborating in routine identifications of Turnera specimens at INB, Manual co-PI Barry Hammel encountered two unusual collections, both from savannas at ca. 1500 m elevation on the Pacific slope of the Cordillera de Talamanca.  This material turns out to be a good match for Turnera curassavica Urb., a sp. otherwise known from southern Mexico to Nicaragua, as well as Colombia, Venezuela, and Curaçao.


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