DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora- BELL FLOWER & BORAGE FAMILIES  

 

Campanulaceae is known as the Bell Flower Family, and although it doesn't look it, is a close cousin of the massive Aster Family.  The Borage family, Boranginaceae, is a bit of an orphan at time of writing, having no assigned botanical Order, but is genetically nearby.

We start with Campanulaceae, which may have as many as 2000 species, but mainly of temperate habit.  There is a subfamily, however, the Lobelioideae, which is at home in the tropics.  There are those in the taxonomy wars that would make this a separate family, including both the Lobelia and Centropogon genera.

 

There is said to be about 230 species in the Centropogon genus, with many hiding out in Ecuador.  In Central America, C. granulosus is the most common, with a range from Costa Rica to Bolivia. Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 77 KB)
Centropogon granulosus is also quite variable.  This may be a reddish version or one of many other species in Costa Rica.  It is hard to tell from photos.  This genus is often known as Gallitos (little roosters) in Central America. Click to see big picture (596x480 pixels; 80 KB)
From the El Dorado Reserve in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia, a form of Centropogon granulosus? with purple whiskers.
Centropogon ferrugineus is at least a bit distinctive.  It is also a mountain species, from Guatemala to Peru. Click to see big picture (630x480 pixels; 106 KB)
With such a large range, Centropogon ferrugineus has considerable variation, this is an orange form high on a volcano in western Panama. Click to see big picture (395x480 pixels; 92 KB)
It seems likely that this elongated flower from Quetzel Park in Costa Rica is Centropogon talamancensis, although C. gutierrezii is very similar with more jagged leaves.. Click to see big picture (640x409 pixels; 97 KB)
Both the talamancensis and gutierrezii species inhabit the uplands of Costa Rica and western Panama.  It seem the latter has more toothed leaves, as on the right, but his has been identified by "Hellaconia" as "Centropogon costaricae" Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 118 KB)
Here we are in Monte Verde, and I am told that this is Centropogon solanifolius, which ranges from here in Costa Rica to Venezuela and Peru. Click to see big picture (563x480 pixels; 121 KB)
Jumping to Mexico, this species with its toothed leaves is Centropogon grandidentatus.  Southern Mexico shares this gem with Guatemala, and also with the botanical gardens at the University of California at Berkeley. Click to see big picture (640x368 pixels; 99 KB)
From the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador, this pink and white Centropogon with pointed ragged-edged leaves is a distinctive species that I have not been able to identify. Click to see big picture (504x480 pixels; 90 KB)
And from the heights of the Condor Range on the Ecuador-Peru border, a Centropogon with a distinctive 'frosted' texture. centropogon
From the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia, an unidentified Centropogon with leaf edges armed with small needles.
A centropogon vine, rather unusual.  Unidentified from the El Dorado Reserve, Colombia.
There are said to be roughly 400 species in the Lobelia genus, and in Central America, Lobelia laxiflora seems to be the most common. Click to see big picture (511x480 pixels; 63 KB)
A look at Lobelia laxiflora as a full plant on Volcan Masaya in Nicaragua.  The usual English name translates the latin as Looseflower Lobelia.  In Mesoamerica, this and similar species are referred to as Caragallos (rooster face). Click to see big picture (633x480 pixels; 157 KB)
The angustifolia subspecies of Lobelia laxiflora is native to the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, in fact one of its names is Sierra Madre Lobelia.  Lotusland, Montecito, California.
There are several subspecies of Lobelia laxiflora. This is likely a pink version from Volcan Baru in Panama. Click to see big picture (349x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Meet Burmeisteria glabrata, of rather unusual appearance.  It hangs out in southern Columbia and in Ecuador, with this photo from the Wildsumaco Reserve in the latter.
The fruit of Burmeisteria glabrata is not eaten by humans, but apparently appreciated by some species of birds.
Again at the Wildsumaco Reserve, a species of Burmeisteria I have not been able to idenify.
Many species of lobelia have blue flowers.  This appears to be Lobelia irazuensis, which graces the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama.  Also spelled irasuensis. Click to see big picture (634x480 pixels; 92 KB)
From high on the border between Ecuador and Peru, a spectacular Campanulaceae vine.  I suspect Siphocampylus scandens.
Siphocampylus giganteus is found mainly in the highlands from Columbia to northern Peru.  Here it is northeast of Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain.
Near the Papallacta Hotsprings in the Cordillera east of Quito, one encounters Siphocampylus lucidus, locally known as Pukunero.  Its range seems to be confined to the mountains of northern Ecuador.
Hippobroma longiflora is an aggressive and poisonous weed, which is now pantropical and blamed on the Caribbean.  In English, it is often called the Star of Bethlehem, although that name is also applied to unrelated species. Click to see big picture (640x458 pixels; 127 KB)
Hippobroma longifolia has irritant sap, and is claimed to be hallucinogenic but also to cause paralysis.  From this comes the name Madam Fate.  It is also known to drive horses mad, and hence betimes is referred to as Revienta Caballos. Click to see big picture (640x403 pixels; 84 KB)


Boraginaceae is usually called the Borage Family, although some would prefer to name it after the Forget-me-nots.  It might claim as many as 2000 species, but few are tropical.  At time of writing, the family has not been assigned to any Order.

 
Heliotropium arborescens has become a major garden item, and is even called Garden Heliotrope along with Cherry Pie Heliotrope.  Very fragrant.  It started its career in Peru, but is now widely planted, especially in Europe and the western Neotropics. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 121 KB)
Heliotropium curassavicum is known as the Salt Heliotrope.  It haunts beaches and saline flats from Canada to Argentina. Click to see big picture (624x480 pixels; 145 KB)
A well-chewed example of Heliotropium indicum, the Indian Heliotrope near Gamboa, Panama.  This is a pantropical weed.
Phacelia platycarpa seems confined to Mexico and Guatemala.  For its leaf shape it is known as Espuelas (spurs), but in central Mexico it goes by the tongue-twisting name Tlatomaxihuitl. Click to see big picture (640x343 pixels; 91 KB)
Tournefortia hirsutissima is a scrambling shrub, found from Mexico to Peru, and also in the Caribbean.  The local name of Hierba Rasposa suggests that its foliage is rough to the touch. Click to see big picture (640x428 pixels; 142 KB)
The medicinal botanical gardens in Cuernavaca label this as Tournefortia mexicana, which may be an abandoned name.  It is apparently known as Hierba de Cancer, and is said to have anti-cancer properties. Click to see big picture (534x480 pixels; 87 KB)
These are the fruit of the Hierba de Cancer.  In general, the Tournefortia genus are known as Soldierbushes, and their fruit as Chiggery Grapes. Click to see big picture (615x480 pixels; 106 KB)
Wigandia urens inhabits waste areas from Mexico to Venezuela and the Caribbean.  It is known as Fiberglass Plant in English, but the local names focus on its extreme irritation and stinging, including Ortiga Blanca and Quemadura. Wigandia urens
This is a cheerful version of Wigandia Urens from central Nicaragua.  Note the two green-tipped stigma.  Note also that there are no visible stinging hairs.  This would appear to be the Caracasana variety. Wigandia urens
Here is quite a different version from central Costa Rica.   The leaves and the stigma are the same. Wigandia urens
But the Costa Rican version of Wigandia Urens not only has blue flowers, but is a true ortiga (nettle) with urtical hairs.  In several places such as Mexico this plant had both ceremonial and medicinal applications, being used for syphilis among other things. Wigandia urens
Wigandia caracascana at the University of California botanical gardens, Berkeley.  There are those who consider this simply a subspecies of the already variable W. urens. Wigandia caracasana
Cordia dentata ranges from the southern U.S. to northern South America.  It is known in English as White Manjak, but here at the mouth of the Palamino River in northeastern Colombia, it would be called Biyuyo, and the translucent berries used for a glue.
Cordia alliodora is known by names such as Spanish Elm, Cypre and Capa Prieta.  It is found through much of the Neotropics, often planted due both to its flowers and its fine, dark wood.
And this appears to be Cordia parvifolia, or Small Leaf Cordia.  It is Mexican by origin, but is here making the best of it near a lodge in Panama.
Surely one of the strangest things to be filed under the Borage family is Lennoa madreporoides, a root parasite from southern Mexico, which spends most of its life underground, before erupting to bloom.  This gives it the name of Pop-ups. pop-ups
From Oaxaca area, this shows the vertical structure of Lennoa madreporoides.  In Latin American the usual term is Flor de arena. pop-up roots