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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

Main | Family List (MO) | Family List (INBio) | Cutting Edge
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The Cutting Edge

Volume X, Number 3, July 2003

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

UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE. These were the words used by legendary Costa Rican field botanist Gerardo Herrera, veteran of innumerable excursions to the most remote parts of Costa Rica (as well as Colombia and Honduras), to describe his recent sojourn in Suriname. Gerardo spent the entire month of June collecting near and along the Zuid River, in south-central Suriname, in the company of MO curators Ramblin' Joe Evans and Bruce Allen. The details are still sketchy, and we have them second-hand, but we gather that Gerardo was impressed in general by the great height of the trees and, more specifically, by a bromeliad with perfectly black flowers. Zoologically speaking, our intrepid brethren feasted their eyes on tapirs, giant otters, monkeys of four spp. in great abundance, and (perhaps not coincidentally) a pair of harpy eagles in a tree right next to camp. Gerardo had the added satisfaction of joining an exclusive fraternity by corralling his 10,000th number, technically not quite in the Amazon basin, but certainly near enough! What an unmitigated joy this must have been for our irrepressible colleague, who has spent the last several years working as a horticultural consultant for a major hotel in Costa Rica [see The Cutting Edge 8(3): 2, Jul. 2001]. The whole shebang was funded by the National Geographic Society.

CANELLACEAE REVISITED. Dominicana and Kevin Nixon student Jackeline Salazar (BH) arrived at INBio on 1 July, having made previous arrangements with Manual co-PI Barry Hammel to visit the only two known individuals of an as-yet-undescribed sp., the only member of Canellaceae native to Central America. Jackeline is working on a monograph of the family for her Ph.D., and was thrilled to encounter these two living dinosaurs in fruit. We were also able to provide her with pickled flowers from a previous trip [see The Cutting Edge 7(2): 3, Apr. 2000]. These two trees, both growing along roadsides, belong to what must be one of the most interesting and at the same time endangered plant spp. on the planet. Hammel has in his custody four tiny seedlings, putatively representing this sp., found in precarious circumstances below the tree growing near Rancho Quemado, on the Península de Osa [see The Cutting Edge 6(1): 4, Jan. 1999]. Despite a rather concerted search in the vicinity of this 35 m tall tree, dropping abundant fruits at the moment, only these four seedlings were found; no other mature individuals or even saplings could be located. So far, Jackeline's observations on the morphology of this sp. confirm our determination to describe it as a new sp. of Pleodendron. Overall, the trip was a resounding success; Hammel, after years of absence from his favorite stomping grounds, rejoiced upon and was rejuvenated by the wonders of Rancho Quemado in the company of his significant other, Isabel Pérez, and bagged the “Season's Pick“ (see above) for this issue.

A WHOLE SLEW OF ORCHIDOLOGISTS. To the “1er Congreso Internacional de Orquideología Neotropical/1st International Conference on Neotropical Orchidology,“ held 20-25 May, came hoards of orchid specialists, including, of course, Manual orchid mastermind Bob Dressler. The congress took place at the Ciudad de La Investigación of the Universidad de Costa Rica (UCR), in San Pedro, and was hosted by UCR and the revitalized Jardín Botánico Lankester, suddenly a hotbed of botanical research (see under Warner, in “Germane Literature“). By all appearances, the conference was very well organized in all respects; remarkably, the proceedings were published in the May issue of Lankesteriana (see under Dressler, Warner, and various other entries, in “Germane Literature“).

MELASTOME FURY. Just missing the press deadline for last quarter's Edge, Manual Melastomataceae contributor Frank Almeda (CAS) worked at INBio during the last two weeks of April, gleaning a few final details from the herbarium. His time was well spent, as we now have in hand a completed manuscript for this large and important family (see under “Treatments Recently Received“). Frank also made acquaintance with Manual Gesneriaceae contributor (and new INBio curator) Ricardo ('Linneo') Kriebel, who made his first big impression at INBio by tackling the backlog of Melastomataceae indets. [see The Cutting Edge 10(1): 1, Jan. 2003]. Ricardo has kindly offered to help with the translation of the entire Melastomataceae treatment, to supply any missing information, and to update those portions contributed by former Herbario Nacional (CR) curator Gina Umaña. Frank also found time for a brief visit to the Estación Biológica La Selva, in the company of Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora.

EXOTIC ENCOUNTERS (OF THE SECOND KIND). Hard on the heels of the first Bhutanese visitor to INBio (see our last issue, this column) comes the first Madagascan contingent. Gasstar Rakotondrandria, a deputy in the National Assembly of Madagascar, is playing a lead role in developing a biodiversity center in his own country, in collaboration with MO Executive Director Peter Raven. He therefore had much to learn from the grand tour of INBio that he experienced on 5 April, in the company of countryman (and MO curator) Armand Randrianasolo. All was not work, however: on the previous day, the two gentlemen had been feted to a scenic traverse of the Cordillera Central, led by Manual co-PI Barry Hammel and INBio's International Training Officer Erick Vargas, starting at Volcán Poás and the Río La Paz waterfall and returning via the Guápiles highway. Back at MO, Armand was heard to comment favorably on the amount of remaining primary forest in Costa Rica.

OTHER DISTINGUISHED VISITORS. INBio curator Francisco Morales was at MO from 28 April-16 May, working on Apocynaceae, Araliceae, and other families; on the same trip, he stopped at several other major North American herbaria. Manual Verbenaceae contributor Ricardo Rueda (HULE) is currently at MO, working up his family treatment for Flora mesoamericana. Recently in Costa Rica, for the first two weeks of July, was Manual Piperaceae contributor Ricardo Callejas (HUA), who, as we write, is on a field trip with Francisco Morales. These gentlemen ferreted out better material of several spp. to be described as new. Meanwhile, Manual Rubiaceae contributor Charlotte M. Taylor (MO), in Costa Rica primarily to teach in an OTS course, worked a few days at INBio, updating determinations, reviewing Manual illustrator Silvia Troyo's “wonderful“ Rubiaceae illustrations, and otherwise progressing toward a revision of her treatment, submitted long ago [see The Cutting Edge 2(2): 3, Apr. 1995].


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