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Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica

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The Cutting Edge

Volume XXVII, Number 4, October 2020

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

PANAMA TREE CHECKLIST. In our review of a paper introducing and analyzing a new checklist of Panamanian trees [see “Germane Literature,” under “Condit,” in The Cutting Edge 27(3), Jul. 2020], we complained that we were unable to locate the checklist itself out there in cyberspace. Pursuant to a request from Manual co-PI Nelson Zamora, the relevant URL was kindly provided by first author Richard Condit:


Have at it, folks!

SAD NEWS. We regret to report the death, on 5 August, of Vanda Nilsson (1955–2020), who worked as a botanical curator at the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica (CR) from ca. 1990–1995. Though it may be a cliché, we didn’t even know she was sick! One of your editors (BEH) learned of Vanda’s passing in a particularly difficult manner, chancing to call her home on the very day that it happened. Vanda’s husband, Rolando Manfredi, disclosed that she had been diagnosed with cancer after the couple returned from a tour of Brazil (Vanda’s country of origin) at the beginning of the year. Vanda, who had once visited MO, collected nearly 700 plant specimens in Costa Rica, sometimes in the company of Rolando (who had his own modest number series). Every death leaves some business unfinished. It so happens that Vanda Nilsson had collected what was (and remains, as far as we know) the only fertile specimen of the still-undescribed sp. dubbed “Rhodospatha sp. B” in the Manual Araceae treatment (2003) by co-PI Mike Grayum. She brought the specimen along on her visit to MO, but seemed disinclined to concoct a description herself (we offered to help), or to collaborate (we offered to let her choose the name) or relinquish the task to us (we offered to name the sp. in her honor!). We sensed that she had a preference, but was too polite to state it directly, and frustrated that we were unable to read her mind. The coveted specimen left town with Vanda, and was never seen or spoken of again. We have no idea if it was ever numbered, mounted, or labeled, or indeed, if it is even extant (we have been unable to pinpoint a likely candidate in any Costa Rican herbarium). If there is anyone within earshot (Rolando?) who knows the whereabouts of this specimen: we encourage you to describe it yourself or pass it along to a Costa Rican colleague (we can pretty much guarantee that it is a new sp.). And if there are no other interested takers: be advised that our original offer (to name the sp. after Vanda, or use a name of her choosing) still stands.

YET MORE SADNESS. By now most of the botanical community will have learned of the passing, on 12 August, of NY curator (and Manual contributor) Scott A. Mori (1941–2020), after a lengthy illness. Together with his then-NY colleague Ghillean Prance, Scott co-authored the two-volume Flora Neotropica Monographs treatment of Lecythidaceae (1979–1990), and subsequently (2007) the Manual account of said family. Like many NY botanists, Scott Mori worked mainly in South America (especially French Guiana), but he did spend some time in Costa Rica at the beginning and near the end of his career. Prior to his participation in an early (1966) OTS course, Scott collected botanized in various parts of Costa Rica (Guanacaste, Sarapiquí, Cerro de La Muerte), often in the company of fellow University of Wisconsin grad student Roger C. Anderson (later at ISU), with whom he co-authored a small paper on Raphia palm swamps (Anderson & Mori, 1967; Turrialba 17: 221–224). He also spent a year collecting in Panama for MO. Much later, Scott somehow hooked up with former parataxonomist Reinaldo Aguilar and, together with Xavier Cornejo (also once at NY), developed a digital flora of the Península de Osa [see under “News and Notes” in The Cutting Edge 15(3): 3, Jul. 2008] and published an important paper on the phytogeography of the Osa tree flora [see under “Cornejo,” this column, in The Cutting Edge 19(3), Jul. 2012]. Scott was an independent sort, and we seldom crossed paths with him in Costa Rica. He was highly regarded by all our Costa Rican colleagues who had the good fortune to meet or correspond with him. For a more detailed appreciation of Scott Mori’s life, see the obituary at the following URL:



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