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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
Draft Treatments | Guidelines | Checklist | Citing | Editors

The Cutting Edge

Volume VI, Number 1, January 1999

News and Notes | Recent Treatments | Leaps and Bounds | Germane Literature

INBio FOLKS HIT THE ROAD. INBio pteridologist Alexander Rojas studied MO's fern collection (mainly Elaphoglossum, from Costa Rica and throughout the Neotropics) during a two-week stay in St. Louis, from 18 October--1 November. Immediately prior to this, he had put in a similar stint at NY. Just after Alex's departure from MO, Andrea Albertin stopped by briefly, to check out graduate programs at local universities. Andrea, a life-long Costa Rican resident with a BA from William and Mary College, has been working at INBio on a voluntary basis, mainly translating Manual treatments from English to Spanish.

MANUAL COLLEAGUES AT MO. Alleged to have been in attendance at MO's annual October symposium were the following Manual contributors and associates: Dan Austin (FAU, Convolvulaceae), Harvey Ballard (BHO, Violaceae), Fred Barrie (F/MO, Valerianaceae), Bill Hahn (US, Aquifoliaceae), and Robbin Moran (NY, pteridophytes).

TAXONOMIC CONCEPTS IN FLUX. The synergistic effects of the cladistics/molecular analysis marriage have begun visiting themselves upon plant classification in a big way, as discussed under "Germane Literature" (see the first entry). But even though a new and better system may loom on the horizon, it promises to be slow in coming. We are in a painful period of transition, affecting not only generic concepts, but familial ones as well. What does all of this portend for the Manual? As we've noted before, these are trying times in which to be producing a flora. During the course of the Manual project, Cordyline (cultivated in Costa Rica), so recently included in Agavaceae (e.g., by Cronquist, 1981), has passed successively from Asteliaceae to Lomandraceae to its present home (we think) in Laxmanniaceae (whatever that is). During the last three years alone, Scrophulariaceae subfam. Rhinanthoideae (including Buchnera, Castilleja, Digitalis, Sibthorpia, Veronica, etc.) was split off as a separate family, Rhinanthaceae, then submerged in Orobanchaceae. And these are just two examples.

Veronica in the Orobanchaceae? We feel as though we were trying to hit a moving target. But even novel dispositions that appear stable and well supported may present a challenge. Some smaller innovations are easily accommodated, and a few have already been worked into Manual treatments (Potalia into Gentianaceae; Najas into Hydrocharitaceae). The larger ones, however, are much more problematic, because of the inherent difficulties discussed in the "Germane Literature" entry, as well as others peculiar to our project. For example, we already have in hand completed treatments of Apiaceae (including Hydrocotylaceae) and Araliaceae (excluding Hydrocotylaceae), Bombacaceae and Malvaceae s. str., Lamiaceae (excluding many genera traditionally referred to Verbenaceae) and Verbenaceae (including those genera, plus Avicenniaceae), and Scrophulariaceae (including Rhinanthaceae). Most of these treatments were submitted well before the indicated changes in familial circumscriptions were publicized. Contributors would have to rewrite their family descriptions and generic keys, and the editors would be challenged to overhaul their keys to families. Some composite plates might have to be modified. Even the content of Manual volumes, calculated on the basis of species totals in an alphabetical family sequence, would have to be reformulated. The hackneyed bottom line is that only well supported and relatively minor classificatory innovations are likely to find their way into the Manual (with the blessing and cooperation of the concerned contributors); otherwise, we expect to preserve a largely Second Millennium perspective on plant classification.

ARACEAE CONFERENCE AT MO. The VIII International Aroid Conference (VIII IAC) will be held at the Missouri Botanical Garden from August 9--11, 1999. The VIII International Aroid Conference will provide a forum for the presentation and discussion of current topics in the family Araceae, including their biology ecology, taxonomy and horticulture. Attendees are invited to present a poster on any of the above topics (abstracts not required). The registration fee of $100 includes admittance to all scientific sessions, evening lectures, poster sessions and receptions. Box lunches, morning coffee, and afternoon breaks are also included in the registration fee. There will be an additional $25 per person fee for the Closing Banquet. Prospective attendees who wish to receive a personal invitation should write to Secretary General (see below). If you would like more information about attending the VIII International Aroid Conference, please contact Beth L. Cosgriff, Secretary General, Missouri Botanical Garden, P. O. Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299, USA, FAX: (01) 314-577-9596, E-mail: bcosgriff@lehmann.mobot.org.

ERRATUM. William Burger (F) supplies the following correction of the title of the Wilson & McCranie (1998) paper featured in our last issue under "Germane Literature": it should read, "The biogeography of the herpetofauna of the subhumid forests of Middle America (Isthmus of Tehuantepec to northwestern Costa Rica)" (boldfaced words were omitted). Still, this figures to be germane.



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