Saturday, May 6, 2017

Some Plants From My Spring Tour to Costa Rica

This is a quick blog with just a few plants from my spring birding tour to Costa Rica, which took place in mid-March.

There are many members of the Ericaceae in the tropical highlands, even familiar genera such as Vaccinium and Gaultheria. This showy one is only tropical, Thibaudia costaricensis, and offers nectar for hummingbirds such as the White-bellied Mountain-gem.
Thibaudia costaricensis

I’m always drawn to members of the Gesneriaceae, the most well known member of which is the African Violet (not even close to being a true violet). I saw two members of this family that I’d never seen before. This one from Tapantí-Macizo de le Muerte National Park is Kohleria tigridia, also known as Capanea grandiflora. It seems the nomenclatural confusion hasn’t been sorted out yet.

This gesneriad is Solenophora calycosa, blooming along stream high in the mountains above Savegre Lodge.

Common in the Cerro de la Muerte highlands is this fantastically enormous thistle, Cirsium subcoriaceum. It’s a favorite of the Magnificent Hummingbird (which when split will be called the Admirable Hummingbird).

Growing near the thistle was this Nasa speciosa, a member of the stickleaf family, Loasaceae. Instead of having a velcro-like texture, the whole plant is covered in many venom-filled bristles, worse than stinging nettle.

On the Caribbean slope at Sueño Azul I took note of just this one member of the Melastomataceae, Conostegia subcrustulata. The online digital flora of La Selva Biological Station was great help in getting names for plants in this region.

Also on our lodge grounds (not sure if it was growing wild or planted) was this orchid, Ionopsis utricularioides one of very few orchids in bloom this time of year. The specific epithet tells that the flowers look very much like a bladderwort in the genus Utricularia – whose flowers in turn are often called orchid-like!

Here’s a Utricularia sp. from my recent northern Peru tour for comparison.

Finally, I happened to notice this cycad Zamia neurophyllidia along the trail at Braulio Carrillo National Park. This one is in the Zamiaceae and may be a host plant for the cycadian butterfly Eumaeus godartii (though Zamia skinneri is identified as the host plant on the Butterflies of American website, and that species of cycad is not listed as occurring in the La Selva region).

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