DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora- CLUSTER AND HERB ASTERACEAE  

 

Asteraceae, known as the Aster, Daisy or Sunflower Family, vies with the Orchids for the botanical family with the most species-- very roughly 23,000 and counting.  For purposes of this website, the Neotropical photos have been rather roughly divided into two large pages.  This page treats species with clustered flowers and also herbs. The other division, which focuses on sunflower and daisy style flora, may be found here.

Although it is the herbal members of the Asteraceae that dominate in temperate landscapes, especially as weeds, they are relatively rare in the tropics, and many are confined to the mountains above timberline.  On the other hand, shrubs with clustered flowers, typically lacking ray petals, are everywhere and with few exceptions they are not easy to identify to species.

 

Shrubs such as this weed near Boquete, Panama are usually assigned to the Ageratum genus, although other genera have a similar style of flowers and most are a product of the wreckage of the mega-genus Eupatorium.  A general name in Central America is Santa Lucia. Click to see big picture (515x480 pixels; 102 KB)
Likely the most common of the genus is Agaratum conyzoides, and the bracts and leaves of this one fit, although there are no guarantees.  Known by names such as Billygoat Weed, this species  is now widespread from the southern Neotropics.  Click to see big picture (638x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Hairy stems are another characteristic of Agaratum Conyzoides, here in Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (429x480 pixels; 76 KB)
The Fleishmannia genus can only be told from Agaratums by microscopic details. There seems a tendency for them to take this form, but in truth there are several genera with similar character and I will leave their separation to specialists. Click to see big picture (601x480 pixels; 102 KB)
Ageratina riparia, identified at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens.  Known as Spreading Snakeroot, it is native to Mexico and the Caribbean, but has been employed in both gardens and tanning, and has become a widespread invasive. Click to see big picture (640x422 pixels; 127 KB)
Chromolaena odorata is a notoriously aggressive weed.  Native to northern Mesoamerica, it has gone pantropical, and is cultivated for medicinal properties in southeast Asia.  This is one of the species referred to as Floss Flowers, while Triffid Weed seems more specific. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 101 KB)
Chromolaena opadoclina is a native of Chiapis, Mexico, but is here rooted at the botanical gardens at UC California, Berkeley. Click to see big picture (602x480 pixels; 118 KB)
Bartlettina sordida is a child of the south Mexico cloud forests.  However, it has been planted for obvious reasons more widely. Click to see big picture (635x480 pixels; 134 KB)
A fuller view of Bartlettina sordida with its huge leaves.  This is also known as Eupatorium atrorubens, and is one of the species denominated Thoroughworts. Click to see big picture (640x472 pixels; 134 KB)
Approaching Chimborazo Mountain in Ecuador, this is some species of Gynoxys. There is one species named for the mountain, but there are a few others luking in the area as well.

Stevia lucida might be encountered in the mountains from Mexico to Colombia, here on Volcan Baru in Panama.   It doesn't even look much like it belongs in the Aster family..

Click to see big picture (386x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Calea integrifolia ranges from here in southern Mexico through much of Central America.
This is likely Archibaccharis schiedeana, a bush native from Mexico to Panama.   Here in the center of Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x450 pixels; 160 KB)
Baccharis genistelloides is a plant of unusual appearance, and it is used against arthritis and liver problems under the name of Carqueja.  It is fairly widespread in South America, photo from east of Quito.
Baccharis latiflolia is also unusual in appearance and may be found in the mountains above tropical South America.  It is one of the species known as Chilca
Baccharis nitida is more typical of the many species of this genus, but has been identified at the Botanical Gardens of Quito.
From the El Dorado Reserve in northeastern Colombia, this is the Lavander Thoroughwort, Fleischmannia pycnocephala, which is also found through much of Central America.
Baccharis trinervis is found through much of the Neotropics, and as its name would suggest it has three-veined leaves.  Photo from Barro Colorado Island, Panama.
All the names of Erechtites valerianifolia seem to include 'weed'.  How about Brazilian fireweed and Tropical Burnweed.  Here it is a roadside weed in Costa Rica.  It ranges across the Neotropics, ready to occupy ground vacated by burning or any other disturbance. Click to see big picture (640x443 pixels; 115 KB)
And when it comes to roadside weeds, may I introduce Clibadium leiocarpum.  Not too eye catching, but common from Nicaragua to Panama.  In this photo the seeds are most prominent.  Click to see big picture (593x480 pixels; 92 KB)
And here, should you really care, is a closer view of the of the flowers of Clibadium leiocarpum.  It will never make the garden circuit.  Click to see big picture (640x436 pixels; 82 KB)
Verbesina turbacensis is a large shrub encountered from Southern Mexico to Panama. The local name is Tora Blanca. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 159 KB)
The Verbesina genus is one of large plants.  This one from high in the Sierra Maihuatlan of southwestern Mexico is Verbesina myriocephala, with deeply lobed leaves.   It ranges from Mexico to Panama.
From the same area, this is Verbesina serrata, named for its serrated leaves.  It has a more restricted range of southern Mexico and Guatemala.
It is known as Gavilana in its home turf and as Jackass Bitters in English.  Neurolaena lobata is a large shrub whose leaves are used to alleviate stomach problems in its range from southern Mexico to Peru.  Sepi is another commonly used name. Click to see big picture (640x457 pixels; 134 KB)
 With shiny leaves, from Monteverde in Costa Rica, I have not been able to put a name to this one. Click to see big picture (538x480 pixels; 103 KB)
The Melanthera genus features hemispherical floral displays which are described in English as Salt and Pepper and locally as Boton Blanco (white button) or Paira. Click to see big picture (565x480 pixels; 65 KB)
This would be Melanthera nivea, native from the southeastern U.S. through northern Mesoamerica  Click to see big picture (564x480 pixels; 97 KB)
Melanthera nivea has square stems and even after the flowers have fled, it maintains an attractive head.  Click to see big picture (478x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Melanthera aspera is now considered an synonym of M. nivea.  Me thinks that they are looking at the genes rather than the plant.  The leaf shape suggests Melanthera hastata, usually assigned to the USA. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 97 KB)
Vernonia arborescens, or maybe Vernonia canescens, then again perhaps Lepidaploa arboresecens, or even Lepidaploa myriocephala. All names for the same plant.  Place your bets while the taxonomic confusion is spinning.  Neotropical in general and big shrub or tree in stature. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 111 KB)
I was told that this is Vernonia patens in Monte Verde, Costa Rica.   Apparantly it is now recast as Critoniopsis suaveolens, a largely Mesoamerican shrub used against dysentery.  Click to see big picture (569x480 pixels; 146 KB)
Eirmocephala brachiata spreads its flowering tendrils near Lago Arenal in Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (374x480 pixels; 91 KB)
A closer look at Eirmocephala brachiata.  This has a range from here to Peru, and is still sometimes addressed as Vernonia brachiata. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 104 KB)
Senecio cooperi, high on Volcan Baru in western Panama.  It is a feature of the mountains from here to northern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (581x480 pixels; 170 KB)
Another view of Senecio cooperi near Toro Pass, Costa Rica.  Large for the Senecio genus. Click to see big picture (471x480 pixels; 113 KB)
Even higher in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama, one encounters Senecio oerstedianus, with clasping, basal leaves. Click to see big picture (294x480 pixels; 82 KB)
A closer look at the flowers of Senecio oerstedianus on a mountain in southern Costa Rica.  Papelillo is a local name. Click to see big picture (497x480 pixels; 130 KB)
Even higher, in the paramos from Colombia to Bolivia, one finds Senecio canescens.  It doesn't look much like a senecio, and in fact the preferred name is now Culcitium canescens. Click to see big picture (487x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Culcitium canescens comes packed in a white fuzz.  The local name for the plant is Huira-huira, and it is gathered to make an analgesic tea for coughs. Click to see big picture (618x480 pixels; 101 KB)
And from the same high paramos of Colombia and Ecuador, this is Senecio formosoides, a large and handsome alpine flower. Click to see big picture (601x480 pixels; 125 KB)
A closer look at the flowers of Senecio formosoides on Volcan Ruiz in Colombia.  It really looks too gaudy to belong in the senecio genus. Click to see big picture (592x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Senecio uspantanensis at the UC botanical gardens, Berkeley.  It hales from southern Mexico and Guatemala. Click to see big picture (529x480 pixels; 130 KB)
From above the Papallacta Hotsprings in the mountains of Ecuador, this appears to be Senecio chionogeton, which Ecuador shares with Peru.
An unidentified species on Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica.  This one manages to remain colorful even after it has gone to seed. Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 186 KB)
Roldana aschenborniana would be at home in the cloud forest of southern Mexico and Guatemala, but is here on display at the botanical gardens in San Francisco. Click to see big picture (364x480 pixels; 95 KB)
And from the same site, Roldana barba-johannis, native from Mexico to Honduras. Click to see big picture (635x480 pixels; 152 KB)
Perymenium discolor seems to be found mainly in the highlands of Oaxaca State in Mexico, where indeed this photo was taken. Click to see big picture (640x389 pixels; 100 KB)
Switching to the Cordillera of Ecuador, this is Sigesbeckia jorullensis, near the Papallacta Hotsprings, where the local name is Papakiwa.  It occurs in the mountains from southern Mexico to Bolivia.
From altitude in Ecuador's Cayambi-coca Park, this is Pentacalia vaccinoides. Some would prefer the Monticalia genus.  The local name is Cubillan, and it is native to the Andes of Columbia and Ecuador.
Liabum igniarium is also native to the mountains of Ecuador and adjacent Colombia, although this one is rooted in Berkeley at the university botanical gardens.  The local name is Hierba de Santa Maria.
Sinclairia polyantha is a vine or a liana, which ranges from southern Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (484x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Also found from Mexico to Colombia is Gnaphalium roseum, a colorful herb which prefers open areas.  In this case it is at elevation on a Costa Rican mountain. Click to see big picture (314x480 pixels; 66 KB)
These are presumably more mature examples of Gnaphalium roseum on Volcan Baru in Panama. Click to see big picture (608x480 pixels; 133 KB)
Most of the many members of the Gnaphalium genus are less distinctive than the rose species, such as this one reclining in the Santa Marta Mountains of Columbia.  I will leave identification to gnaphalium enthusiasts.
The Alpine Leafy Aster (Symphyotrichum foliaceum) graces mountains from Canada down to here in southern Mexico.
Another herb of the high mountains is Oritrophium peruvianum, approx.  This may be found in paramos from Venezuela to Peru, and here in Columbia it is collected to treat asthma and influenza. Click to see big picture (519x480 pixels; 81 KB)
The stemless alpine flower Hypochaeris sessiliflora, at Papallacta Pass, east of Quito, Ecuador. Flowers of this type are betimes called Chikku-chikku.
At the 4000 meter altitude level on Chimborazo Mountain (Ecuador's highest), this would be Hypochaeris sonchoides.  Alas, in some quarters, this and H. sessiliflora are considered to be the same species.
To complicate matters further, this citizen of Papallacta Pass is also considered to be a rose form of Hypochaeris sonchoides.  It is locally known as Roseton de Paramo and attributed medicinal properties with respect to skin problems.
And while at Papallacta Pass, here is an unidentified alpine herb.
Porophyllum linaria, approx. is a herb of southern Mexico, where it is used as a condiment under names such as Pepicha and Hierba de Venado. Click to see big picture (574x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Another Mexican Porophyllum. Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 75 KB)
Baileya multiradiata is known as the Desert Marigold, but has no relationship to the true marigolds (Tagetes genus).  It is native to the southwestern U.S. and Mexico and has now been planted widely in gardens. Click to see big picture (494x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Back to Volcan Baru for Erigeron maxonii, a feature of the higher mountains here in western Panama and in adjacent Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 139 KB)
From mountain herbs to mountain giants.  Cirsium subcoriaceum is a huge thistle found in the Andes from southern Mexico to Panama.  This is growing in central Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 129 KB)
Cirsium subcoriaceum well deserves its name of Cardo Gigante.  Here is one in Panama with a human for scale. Click to see big picture (444x480 pixels; 129 KB)
A comparison of the flowers from Costa Rica and Panama shows considerable variation.  In Mexico the plant is used as an analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Click to see big picture (640x454 pixels; 116 KB)
An unidentified thistle-like plant from the 4000 meters elevation level on Chimborazo Mountain, Ecuador's highest peak.
And once again, from the alpine zone on Chimborazo, this is Chuquiraga jussieui, known as the Flor de Andinista, as it is one of the few sizeable plants that are found at extreme altitudes.
It doesn't look like something from the aster family, in fact one might hesitate to classify it with the flowering plants, but this is a Loricaria, likely L. Thuyoides, which is a feature of the high paramos from Bolivia to Colombia.  Local names include Falso Cedro (false cedar) and Cacho de Venado (deer horns). Click to see big picture (379x480 pixels; 116 KB)
And here is another species of Loricaria (perhaps L. ferruginea) from Papallacta Pass, which crosses the Cordillera east of Quito.  There are several species of this genus listed in the area.
Lasiocephalus ovatus doesn't look much like a typical member of the aster family either, and is quite variable. The species is largely confined to the mountains of Ecuador, here in Cayami-coca Park.  The local name is Arquitecta.