NEWS AND NOTES | RECENT TREATMENTS | LEAPS AND BOUNDS | GERMANE LITERATURE
INBio PLANT WORKSHOP. A so-called "Taller de Plantas" was staged
jointly at INBio and the plush Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo during the
first week of August. Complementing the usual riff-raff (all three Manual co-PI's
plus appropriate INBio personnel) were the following botanical luminaries: Frank
Almeda (CAS), Alfredo Cascante (CR), Gerrit Davidse (MO),
Robert Dressler (MO/FLAS), Armando Estrada (CR), Jorge Gómez-Laurito
(USJ), William Haber (MO), Sandra Knapp (BM), Paul Maas
(U), Dora Emilia Mora (USJ), Rodolfo Ortiz (USJ), and Leticia
Pacheco (UAMIZ). The principal agenda was to define and articulate the botanical
component of INBio's national inventory program for the coming years. The task
was accomplished, and all participants enjoyed and appreciated INBio's fine
hospitality. Visiting specialists were able to work in the INBio herbarium during
off-hours, and an abundance of fresh material was newly annotated, especially
in Annonaceae (Maas), Melastomataceae (Almeda), Orchidaceae (Dressler), Poaceae
(Davidse), and Solanaceae (Knapp). After the workshop had ended, several participants
partook of a day-trip (led by premier parataxonomist Reinaldo Aguilar)
to Parque Nacional Braulio Carrillo, where they visited a population of the
costaricensis L. D. Gómez & Gómez-Laur. (Hydnoraceae).
PI'S ON THE PROWL. Mike Grayum was in Costa Rica for a seven-week period during July and August, mainly to work in the major national herbaria. His only noteworthy field excursion involved the collection of Sabal (Arecaceae) described under "Leaps and Bounds." He also attended the "Taller de Plantas" (see above), and co-taught the La Selva portion of an OTS Plant Systematics course (see below). Both of these functions were likewise fulfilled by Barry Hammel, who later (10 Sept.) journeyed to St. Louis for a five-week stint at MO.
FUN WITH OTS. The third Organization for Tropical Studies (OTS) course on Plant Systematics was a smashing success in the hands of ecologist Brad Boyle (institutional affiliation unknown) and pteridologist Robbin Moran (NY). Sites visited included Las Cruces, Cuericí (on Cerro de la Muerte), Palo Verde, and La Selva. Among the resource personnel conscripted were David Baum (Harvard), Jack Fisher (FTG), Luis Diego Gómez (OTS), José González (INB), Scott Mori (NY), Kevin Nixon (BH), and Orlando Vargas (OTS), in addition to Grayum and Hammel. Perhaps the key ingredient, though, was the group of students, a selection of exceptional caliber.
MUSEO IN UNCHARTED WATERS. An article in a recent issue of "Museo," a trimestral newsletter published by the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, highlights the ongoing activities of the Herbario Nacional (CR) in the central Pacific region of the country. As translated from this article, the study region comprises the basins of the Ríos Paquita, Naranjo, Brujo, Savegre and División, from Fila Chonta (Cantón de Parrita, Prov. Puntarenas) in the north to Fila Tinamaste (Cantón de Pérez Zeledón, Prov. San José) in the south, and ranging in elevation from ca. 500--1500 m. This has proven to be a veritable gold-mine for CR botanists Armando Estrada and Joaquín Sánchez, who head the project. Already, some major finds have been published and/or reported in the present pages, including several new species of Chamaedorea [Arecaceae; see The Cutting Edge 5(1): 4--5, Jan. 1998] and the genus Tachia [Gentianaceae; The Cutting Edge 3(2): 5, Apr. 1996], new to Mesoamerica. The article features a black-and-white photo of the now infamous municipal garbage dump of San Marcos de Tarrazú, near which these last-mentioned discoveries have occurred. The end is nowhere in sight (the end of discoveries, that is, not of the garbage dump). During a recent visit to CR, co-PI Grayum examined superb material of two radically different Anthurium sp. (Araceae), gathered by specialist collector Oscar Valverde, that are unquestionably new to Mesoamerica, and probably to science. A similar evaluation was made by Manual contributor Frank Almeda (CAS) with respect to a whole stack of Melastomataceae collected by CR botanists in the central Pacific region, and brought to INB by Estrada during the Taller de Plantas sessions (see previous page).
MANUAL CONTRIBUTORS MAKE THE ROUNDS. During a whirlwind visit to Costa Rica in her capacity as member of OTS's Las Cruces Advisory Board, Lynn Bohs (DUKE; Solanaceae) stopped in at CR, where she suffered the profound misfortune of encountering both Grayum and Hammel. Paul Maas (U; Burmanniaceae, Cannaceae, Costaceae, Gentianaceae pro parte, Triuridaceae, Zingiberaceae) spent several days at MO, where he determined a large quantity of material in various families. Maas and several other Manual contributors were in Costa Rica in early August for INBio's Taller de Plantas (see the first entry in this section).
BARRY SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIMSELF! A pronouncement that might have been prompted by any one of various transgressions, but elicited in this case from Flora costaricensis mentor William Burger (in litt.) by "what [he] saw as an outrageous insult to the floral diversity of the world's most precious piece of tropical real estate." The tongue-in-cheek reference is to co-PI Barry Hammel's assessment (in our last issue) that Suriname, in spite of being almost four times as large, may have "not many more species of plants than Costa Rica." Burger bets that Costa Rica is in fact "way ahead...by at least 30%," and that "all the Guianas put together (and their tepuis) might not equal the numbers that decorate our favorite little Central American republic." Even the entire Guayanan floristic province, he goes on, "has been estimated to have between 7,000 and 10,000 species" (i.e., less than to barely as much as Costa Rica, which has perhaps 9,000--10,000 spp. of vascular plants). Needless to say, we are inclined to accept Bill's version of things without further ado. We can only attribute Barry's temporary incoherency to having smoked añumara.
HAPPY FIFTEENTH, ANDRÉS. We always get his name wrong, but Manual doyenne Cecilia Herrera's oldest son Andrés celebrates his fifteenth birthday on 14 October. We note this here in recognition of Cecilia's devoted attention to the Manual, as well as to her four children.