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  DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora-  WOODY 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 covers species with solitary flowers with ray-petals.  In most cases these are shrubs or even trees, as opposed to herbs.  The other half of the family are presented here.

As the chain of the Andes mountains crosses the tropics, they present alpine zones known as 'paramos', host to some distinctive flora.  Here the aster family has given rise to tree-like apparitions of the Espeletia genus called Frailejones.

 

Rising high above the stunted vegetation of the alpine paramos, Frailejones have an almost palm-like appearance.  The name is derived from a monk's hood. Click to see big picture (640x457 pixels; 124 KB)
There are several species of Espeletia, but these with flowers protected by a white fuzz seem to be assigned to Espeletia hartwegiana, here at the base of Volcan Ruiz, Colombia. Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 81 KB)
A closer look at the flower of Espeletia hartwegiana. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Tithonia diversifolia is a native Mesoamerican shrub which has gone pantropical.  Here in Panama it goes by names such as Arbol Maravilla and Girasol Mexicano. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 99 KB)
But Tithonia diversifolia has traveled widely, this is a photo from east Africa.  Mainly it is planted as an ornamental, but in Asia it is also pressed to medicinal uses.  English names include Tree Marigold and Mexican Sunflower. Click to see big picture (406x480 pixels; 81 KB)
A look at a thicket of Tithonia diversifolia.  It has proved invasive is some areas. Click to see big picture (608x480 pixels; 177 KB)
Heliopsis annua sports showy flowers, but it is confined to southern and central Mexico, here near the town of Crucecita.
Podachaenium eminens is native from Central Mexico south to about Costa Rica.  It has entered gardens more widely as the Giant Tree Daisy, in this case the Quail Botanical Gardens in California. Click to see big picture (515x480 pixels; 80 KB)
With an exterior ring of small florets, this appears to be Melampodium divaricatum.  The species is at home from central Mexico to Colombia, and here in southern Mexico goes by names such as Hierba de Cucho and Hierba Aguada. Click to see big picture (343x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Something unusual, a flower whose ray-petals get pulled apart as the seeds form.  Melampodium perfoliatum is found from Mexico to Costa Rica.  An annual weed, it is referred to as Ojo de Perico or as the Perfoliate Blackfoot. Click to see big picture (629x480 pixels; 75 KB)
In the alpine setting of Cayambi-coca Park, cordilleran Ecuador, this is Dorobaea pimpinellifolia.  It is native to the mountains of Ecuador and northern Peru.
Montanoa hexagona has this seed display that is more likely to attract attention than its simple white flowers.  It is Mexican by birthright, but has here strayed to the Botanical Gardens in San Francisco.  Sorry, I got this one out of order, there are more of the genus later. Click to see big picture (369x480 pixels; 77 KB)
Vigethia mexicana also carries a Mexican passport, but is here rooted at the UC Berkeley gardens.  It looks a bit like a sunflower, and is indeed referred to as Girasol Mexicana de Vigeth on its home turf. Click to see big picture (411x480 pixels; 75 KB)
Rojasianthe superba is sort of a white sunflower tree.  It is rare, and with a limited range in the mountains of southern Mexico and Guatemala.  We have returned to the SF Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (276x480 pixels; 66 KB)
Dahlia coccinea is mainly a child of the Mexican altiplano, but for obvious reasons it has been exported widely to gardens, under the simple name of Red Dahlia.  Here it is on its native habitat. Click to see big picture (487x480 pixels; 88 KB)
It is known as the Mexican Tree Dahlia, and its designation as Dahlia imperialis supports its stature which can reach 10 meters height.  This monster was one of the dahlias transported early to Europe and on to gardens of warm climates. Click to see big picture (419x480 pixels; 124 KB)
Dahlia imperialis, which is also known as Bell Tree Dahlia, may be found in open areas over much of Mesoamerica, preferring mountains.  This one was below Cortez Pass in Mexico.  Some would classify this as D. lehmannii. Click to see big picture (548x480 pixels; 66 KB)
From high in the Maihuatlan Range of southwestern Mexico, this appears to be Dahlia tenuicaulis, which is more or less confined to southern Mexico.
The Weeping Dahlia Tree looks like it was designed for gardens.  Dahlia campanulata is a native of southern Mexico, but is here showing off at the UC gardens, Berkeley. Click to see big picture (569x480 pixels; 118 KB)
An unidentified, eight petal aster from Oaxaca State of Mexico.  It is one of the plants known as Flor Todo los Santos, but that tends to get confused with the celebrations of that name. Click to see big picture (572x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Introducing Lasianthaea fruticosa in south central Costa Rica, where it is a small tree going by the name of Quitirrisi.  With several varieties or subspecies, it may be found from Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 102 KB)
Acmella oppositifolia is widespread, preferring wet footing.  Photo from a ditch near El Dorado Resort, Santa Marta Mountains, northeast Colombia.
Acmella ciliata at Omaere Ethnobotancial Gardens at Puyo, Ecuador.  It is said to numb the mouth, and indeed is known as the Fringed Pod Toothache Plant. Native to tropical South America.
Acmella uliginosa goes by the name of Marsh Para Cress.  It originated in South America, but is now found in cultivation and as a pantropical weed. The spicy leaves are eaten cooked, which explains its expansion, but here it is a weed in the Darien of Panama.
Sphagneticola (or Wedelia) trilobata is largely a coastal item, and started its career on the beaches of tropical Americas, where it enjoyed names such as Clavellin de la Playa.  Now it haunts coasts on a pantropical basis with many names such as Creeping Oxeye Click to see big picture (477x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Not much is known about Liabum igniarium.  It graces the Andes of Ecuador and adjacent Colombia.  Here it is, thanks to the botanical  gardens at UC Berkeley.
Seed displays of Montanoa grandiflora, one of the species known as Tree Daisy.  Native to northern Central America, it has been planted more widely. Click to see big picture (570x480 pixels; 112 KB)
The leaves of Montanoa grandiflora are also quite striking, and part of the species ornamental appeal. Click to see big picture (640x405 pixels; 83 KB)
And then there is Montanoa hibiscifolia, native through Central America from southern Mexico, here in northern Nicaragua.  This is another Tree Daisy which has been more widely planted. Click to see big picture (640x471 pixels; 129 KB)
In southern Mexico it is known as Quema Trapos because it is said that water dripping from this species can burn holes through clothing.  I suspect that it is Montanoa leucantha var. arborescens, but I would not bet the farm on it. Click to see big picture (640x394 pixels; 126 KB)
An unidentified member of the Tridax genus in the El Dorado Reserve, northeastern Colombia.
At timberline on Cerro de la Muerte in Costa Rica one encounters this giant aster-tree with frills.  It is likely Telanthophora (or Senecio) arborescens, which haunts the higher elevations from southern Mexico to western Panama.  Click to see big picture (604x480 pixels; 157 KB)
Here are the actual flowers of Telanthophora (or Senecio) arborescens .  Such apparitions are known as Mano de Leon (lion's paw) locally. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Smallanthus pyramidalis has managed to corner the name Arbol Loco (crazy tree), perhaps because it is very fast growing.  It is a feature of the Andes from Venezuela to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (587x480 pixels; 102 KB)
Smallanthus (or Polymnia) maculatus hangs out from central Mexico to Panama.  Here, however, we are back at the UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (350x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Smallanthus uvedalia in the El Dorado Reserve of the Santa Marta Mountains in northeasternmost Colombia.  It is largely native to Central America.
Diplostephium antisanense is now known to some as D. ericoides.  By whatever name it is found in the mountains of Ecuador, here on the pampas below its highest mountain, Chimborazo.
Above Papallacata Hotsprings in the mountains of Ecuador, this would be Diplostephium hartwegii.  It may be found in the Andes of Ecuador and southern Colombia.
Diplostephium spinulosum at altitude in Ecuador's Cayambi-coca Park, native to the mountains of Ecuador and adjacent parts of Colombia.
Diplostephium floribundum seems to have spawned five subspecies, even though it is confined to the mountains from Costa Rica to Ecuador, in this case a paramo in Colombia. Click to see big picture (640x423 pixels; 137 KB)
A white flowered tree from the Cordillera Condor.  This looks like it might be from the Barnadesia genus.
It is weed in some parts of southern Mexico, but Cosmos bipinnatus has been widely planted and widely naturalized, with many cultivars.  Back here in the highland forests of Oaxaca it is simply known as Cosmos. Click to see big picture (508x480 pixels; 72 KB)
Onoseris hyssopifolia is found mainly in the mountains of Ecuador, in this case near the town of Otavalo, northeast of Quito.
A side view of this striking species.  The flower is actually surprisingly brittle for an aster.
From the same parts of Mexico, this is approximately Trixis inula.  It pops up as a weed through much of Mesoamerica, where the most popular name seems to be Hierba del Aire.  In English, Tropical Threefold is preferred. Click to see big picture (515x480 pixels; 86 KB)
Dyssodia decipiens  is one of the flowers known as Flor de Muerto (flower of death).  A complex flower, it is rooted in southern Mexico and Guatemala. Click to see big picture (551x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Rumsfordia floribunda is an aster-bush found mainly in southern Mexico, in this case in the Maihuatlan Mountains.
This one is said to be a Costa Rica endemic.  Munnozia wilburii at Monte Verde. Click to see big picture (640x437 pixels; 131 KB)
While Munnozia hastifolia tends to stay to the east of the Andes from Columbia to Bolivia.  Photo from near Baez, Ecuador.
I am calling this case from the highlands of western Panama, Munnozia senecionidis, in part because of the arrow-shaped leaf, and in part because it is the only one of it genus listed for Panama.  You might come across this shrub from here clear south to Bolivia. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 86 KB)
From high in the Cordillera Condor, between Ecuador and Peru, this shrub is apparently Erato sodiroi.
Erato vulcanica in the Rio Hollin area of Ecuador.  It may be found from here north to Costa Rica.
With large leaves and a retiring flower, Baltimora recta (judging by the leaves) deserves the diminutive local name of Florecillo.  "Cow flower", Flor de vaca is another insult.  In English, for some odd reason , it is known as Beautyhead.  Fairly widespread in the Neotropics, it can flaunt from 5 to 8 ray flowers. Click to see big picture (421x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Tagetes is the marigold genus, and this is the Sweetscented Marigold, Tagetes lucida.  It is found through much of Mesoamerica, but mainly appreciated in Mexico where it is known as Mexican Tarragon, and used accordingly as a condiment.  It also makes a relaxing tea and was employed  by the Aztecs as a psychoactive in shamanic rites. Click to see big picture (611x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Tagetes nelsonii is native to southern Mexico, and is betimes known as the Mexican Tree Marigold although little more than a shrub.  It is also called the Citrus Scented Marigold.  UC Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (562x480 pixels; 98 KB)
Another species known as the Mexican Marigold is Tagetes lemmoni.  A native of the southern  U.S. and Mexico, it goes under titles such as Mountain Marigold and Tagete de Lemmon. Click to see big picture (532x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Tagetes lunulata is a weed in southern Mexico, but somehow was introduced into garden circles as Tagetes patula.  It is likely a species complex, and has been used as both an ornamental and a contraceptive. Click to see big picture (552x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Another view of the variable Tagetes lunulata.  It was introduced to me as the Rosa de Muerte (death rose) although Flor de Muerte is more common.  Another local name is Cinco llagas (five wounds) referring to the five red marks on the petals.  So much gloom for such an attractive flower. Click to see big picture (531x480 pixels; 79 KB)
There are roughly 200 species in the Bidens genus, and many of these are soundly cursed for their painful burrs, which go by names such as Beggar Ticks, Tickseeds and Spanish Needles Click to see big picture (343x424 pixels; 59 KB)
Most Beggar Ticks have branched points and barbs to make removal from fur or clothing more difficult.  This is likely Bidens pilosa, which may be blamed on the Neotropics, but has now spread as an unwelcome pantropical weed. Click to see big picture (491x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Bidens triplinervia is a habitant of the higher Andes from Mexico to Argentina, here in Panama. Flower on left from Cortez Pass, Mexico, on right is the highest Plant in Panama from the very summit of Volcan Baru.  Despite the small stature, yellow bidens in Mexico tend to be called Acahual Cimarron, (wild sunflower in the local dialect). Click to see big picture (640x400 pixels; 104 KB)
Bidens alba is a widespread weed in the warmer parts of planet earth and is known as Common Beggar Tick.  In the true tropics, it tends to be found at altitude.  In some areas it is known as Romerillo and the leaves are eaten as a condiment. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 74 KB)
Bigelow's Beggar Tick (Bidens bigelovii) ranges from the southwestern U.S. to Panama.  Here in Mexico it is a common weed. Click to see big picture (532x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Bidens ostruthioides is reported from scattered sites through continental Mesoamerica, but this one is rooted at the botanical gardens, UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (481x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Arizona Beggar Ticks is an English name for Bidens aurea, which is now widespread from its origin in northern Mesoamerica, preferring damp areas.  In Mexico it is used to make a medicinal tea known as Te de Milpa.  The flowers can be yellow, white or in between.  These photos are from Chile, where it has become a common weed. Click to see big picture (640x327 pixels; 67 KB)
Bidens aequisquama looks far too ornamental for a bidens, and might be mistaken for a dahlia were it not labeled at UC Botanical Gardens.  A native resident of central Mexico. Click to see big picture (489x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Somewhat disheveled flowers of Trepadeira Mexicana.  With the unwieldy scientific name of Pseudogynoxys chenopodioides, this vine is used in Mexico and Central America to cover walls or fences and to enhance gardens. Click to see big picture (352x480 pixels; 71 KB)
From the forests of Costa Rica, an unidentified vine flower with eight ray petals. Click to see big picture (555x480 pixels; 147 KB)
Mutisia grandiflora is a vine native to the mountains of Columbia and Ecuador.  It is here in the latter, above Papallacta Hotsprings, where it is known as Cholo Cuencana.
An unidentified sunflower-style shrub from southern Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x449 pixels; 98 KB)
On Mt. Kennedy in the Santa Marta Range of northeastern Colombia, this plant presents leaves with jagged edges and almost succulent in thickness.
In fact the photo collection contains many aster-shrubs that I have not been able to name.  Perhaps they can be identified and added later.  This last one from a cloud forest in northern Nicaragua is distinguished by a red calyx, and leaves with three veins and marginal barbs.  Click to see big picture (626x480 pixels; 122 KB)