DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL SOUTH AMERICA

 
     
  FLORA- THE LAMIALES ORDER  

 

The Lamiales Order contains some of the more outstanding floral groups of the Neotropics.  It is named for the Mint Family, Lamiaceae, but these are not a major constituent of tropical vegetation.  In this page it is the large trumpet flowers of the Bignonia Family (Bignoniaceae) and the colorful presentations of the Acanthus Family (Acanthaceae) which dominate.  Also involved are a few species from the Verbenaceae, Olacaceae, Plantaginaceae, Gesneriaceae, and the carnivorous Lentibulariaceae families..

We will start off with the order's namesake, the Lamiaceae or Mint Family.  This is more important in temperate climates, than here in the tropics.

 

It is known as the Lion's Tail, which is fitting as Leonotis leonurus started its career in east Africa.  It has now been spread to many of the warmer parts of planet earth, including those of Latin America, where it becomes Cola de Leon.  Its success has been based, at least in part, on its use as a hallucinogen.  Photo from southernmost Tanzania. Click to see big picture (717x600 pixels; 135 KB)
Salvia guaranitica is one of the species known as Anise Sage.  It is native to southeastern Brazil, northern Argentina and Paraguay, but it is more commonly met in gardens, in this case the Botanical one of San Francisco. Click to see big picture (800x582 pixels; 158 KB)
An unidentified Salvia with an unusual red calyx.  Photo from near the Brazil border in northeastern Argentina. Click to see big picture (729x600 pixels; 123 KB)

The Acanthus Family or Acanthaceae can muster roughly 250 genera and maybe ten times as many species, mainly found in the tropical sectors of the world.

 

 
Justicia carnea is known as the Brazilian Plume, and is indeed native to southeast Brazil and northeast Argentina.  Its tousled pink head is also met widely in gardens, however.  Photo from Hawaii. Click to see big picture (551x600 pixels; 116 KB)
Justicia scheidweileri started out in eastern Brazil, but once again has become a garden item, for both its flowers and leaves.  Bloedel Conservatory, Vancouver. Click to see big picture (720x548 pixels; 160 KB)
Justicia brasiliana is a striking and unusual species, found in the southern tropics of South America, in this case in the Iguazu area of northeastern Argentina. Click to see big picture (480x600 pixels; 83 KB)
A look at the almost vine-like structure of the Justicia brasiliana bush with its odd assembly of leaflets below each flower. Click to see big picture (800x536 pixels; 130 KB)
Schaueria calycotricha of Brazilian origin, but now found widely in gardens, in this case at the KEW in London. Click to see big picture (800x599 pixels; 160 KB)
Ruellia chartacea is perhaps the most showy of its genus.  Known confusingly as the Peruvian Wild Petunia, it is at home on the western fringes of the Amazon Basin in Peru and Ecuador, this one being from near the town of Tena in the latter. Click to see big picture (760x600 pixels; 133 KB)
We return to the Bloedel Conservatory in Vancouver for Porphyocoma pohliana, which would be at home in the Amazon basin of Brazil. Click to see big picture (670x600 pixels; 192 KB)
Sanchezia sp. on the Sacha Lodge Reserve in eastern Ecuador.  There are eight species of Sanchezia listed in the country, some with showy, white-veined leaves. Click to see big picture (637x600 pixels; 172 KB)
Fittonia albivenis goes by names such as Nerve Leaf and Painted Net Leaf.  It comes from the western Amazon of Peru and Ecuador, and is widely used as ground cover in tropical gardens. Click to see big picture (800x479 pixels; 227 KB)

The Bignoniaceae is a family of importance in the South American tropics.  It is sometimes called the Trumpet Creeper Family, which makes some sense as most of the flowers are trumpet shaped, and many of the species are vines or lianas.  It seems that the actual size of the family in terms of genera and species is still being sorted out.

 

 
Bignonia callistegioides is one of my favorites. It may be found in the forests from northeastern Argentina to southeastern Brazil and Uruguay. The photo is from near Salta, Argentina. Click to see big picture (405x600 pixels; 88 KB)
Bignonia callistegioides is a liana, and goes my names such as Violet Trumpet Vine and Painted Trumpet in English, and as Dama del Monte in Spanish. Click to see big picture (665x600 pixels; 139 KB)
Cydista aequinoctialis is one of the species known as Garlic Vines for their smell.  It is a widespread liana in the Neotropics, and here in the Colombian Amazon it shares the name Cornetilla Rosea with similar flowers. Click to see big picture (524x600 pixels; 143 KB)
Looking somewhat similar, but without the garlic smell, Paragonia pyramidata ranges from southern Mexico to Uruguay.  This one is west of the city of Coca in eastern Ecuador. Click to see big picture (787x600 pixels; 156 KB)
Tabebuia rosea is native to parts of Central America, but has been planted and naturalized in South America and across the tropics.  In fact this photo is from Borneo.  It is perhaps best known as Pink Tecoma. Click to see big picture (725x600 pixels; 155 KB)
Tabebuia impetiginosa is native from southern Mexico to Northern Argentina, but has been planted in many parts of the Tropics.  Photo from near Santa Cruz in eastern Bolivia.  It tends to be known as the Purple Tecoma, although the flowers are mainly pink. Click to see big picture (720x491 pixels; 132 KB)
Turning to yellow flowers, this is the Golden Tajibo tree, Tabebuia aurea.  Its native range is Florida to Uruguay, but as with others of its genus it has been planted widely.  Note that the flowers arrive before the leaves. Click to see big picture (720x595 pixels; 125 KB)
Macfadyena uncata is a high-climbing vine, widespread in the Neotropics, but not common.  Photo from near Iguazu, northeastern Argentina.  Note the large beans. Click to see big picture (348x600 pixels; 109 KB)
Who has not seen Tecoma stans?  The Yellow Trumpet Tree has been planted, naturalized and gone invasive in many parts of both the tropics and more temperate regions.  Lovely flowers, but basically a weed. Click to see big picture (659x600 pixels; 97 KB)
The rare white trunks of Memora cladotricha rising in the dark tropical forests are so striking that the natives are said to have named the species for lightning.  The flowers are classical Bignoniaceae.  It is not common, but ranges through the northern South American lowlands.  Photo from Sacha Reserve, eastern Ecuador. Click to see big picture (669x600 pixels; 134 KB)
Tourretia lappacea is a scrambling burr vine, found from Guatemala to Bolivia, albeit preferring the highlands.  The flowers are not typical of the Bignonia clan, and not much seems to be known about the species.  Photo from western Panama. Click to see big picture (596x600 pixels; 169 KB)
The Calabash (Crescentia cujete) is well known through its native Neotropics and has been planted beyond. Click to see big picture (772x600 pixels; 138 KB)
The shells of the Calabash are employed as bowls.  The slimy white goop inside is said to be carcinogenic, but is used in folk medicine. Click to see big picture (566x600 pixels; 119 KB)

The Verbena Family (Verbenaceae) has now been reduced to roughly 1200 species, and only a few of these grace the Neotropics.

 

 
Both a garden favorite and a notorious weed, Lantana camara has spread from its native Neotropics to prove invasive in warm climates of some 50 nations.  There are many color variations and many names, but simply Lantana will usually suffice. Click to see big picture (774x600 pixels; 154 KB)
Glandularia peruviana may be found in northern Argentina and adjacent parts of surrounding countries to the north.  Its local name is Margarita Punzo, while Peruvian Mock Vervain is heard in gardening circles.  Santa Cruz Botanical Gardens, Bolivia. Click to see big picture (720x549 pixels; 113 KB)
Verbena bonariensis is a species from tropical South America with flowers that vary from light to dark purple.  It is now pretty well pantropical, in fact this photo is from near Arusha, Tanzania. Click to see big picture (476x600 pixels; 100 KB)
Verbena rigida, also known as V. venosa.  Its home range covers northeastern Argentina, southeastern Brazil and adjacent Paraguay, with photo from near the Argentine-Brazil border.  Under names such as Tuberous Vervain, it has now been planted widely in the tropics. Click to see big picture (437x600 pixels; 80 KB)
Turning to the Gesneriaceae Family, these are the flowers of Drymonia coccinea, which go by the lovely name of Besos de Novia.  The species may be found in northern South America, with photo from the Javary River area on the Brazil-Peru Border. Click to see big picture (391x600 pixels; 101 KB)
Strangely, there is a variety of this flower that becomes coated with a clear mucus.  This example of Drymonia coccinea var. umecta is from the Jatun Sacha Reserve in Ecuador. Click to see big picture (422x600 pixels; 106 KB)
These unusual fruit and calyx mark Heisteria spruceana of the Olacaceae Family. It may be found in the upper reaches of the Amazon Basin, from Colombia to Bolivia.  Photo is from the Colombian Amazon, where it is known as Muruchi. Click to see big picture (720x520 pixels; 129 KB)
From the Plantaginaceae Family, introducing Otacantha azureus.  It is known as the Brazilian Snapdragon, and is indeed largely from Brazil, although this one was caught in a garden in Hawaii. Click to see big picture (616x600 pixels; 104 KB)
Turning to the Bladderwort Family (Lentibulariaceae). This one, from the flood zone of the Amazon River in Colombia, is Utricularia foliosa. It is known as the Leafy Bladderwort, although the leaves are submerged, and a least some of its energy comes from eating insects. Locally it is called Soldadito, comparing it to a soldier standing at attention. Click to see big picture (558x600 pixels; 135 KB)
Utricularia reniformis is another insect-eating Bladderwort, native to Brazil and Venezuela. These, however, are blooming at Kew Gardens in London. Click to see big picture (490x600 pixels; 83 KB)