DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora- APIALES AND DIPSACALES  

 

The Apiales is a botanical Order named for the Carrot Family, Apiaceae, which dominates the group.  It is closely related to the Dipsacales Order, whose name is derived from the Teasel Family, now a relatively minor player in its Order.

Dipsacales is a grouping which is presently somewhat unsettled as to what is in and what is out.  Dipsacaceae, the Teasels, has only about 350 members, and is not really tropical.  The spiny heads were used to untangle or 'card' wool, and along with certain thistles they are known as Cardos in Latin America.

Of more weight in the tropics is the Adoxaceae.  This is still known as the Moschatel Family, for a diminutive plant from the times when this was a diminutive family.  However, the lords of phylogeny smiled upon it and dumped the elderberries and viburnums on its roster, so it is now a family of some distinction, and perhaps 200 species.

 

Dipsacus fullonum is not much used for carding nowadays, but has proved popular in gardens, and can be invasive.  It is Eurasian, but widely found in the Americans, here as a garden escapee near Bogota.  The domestic plants are known as Dipsacus sativa, but the same species. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 123 KB)
Sambucus nigra is an upland species complex of European extraction.  It is known as Black Elder, and is now common in Latin America, where the elders are known as Saucos.  Edible, and one source of elderberry wine. Click to see big picture (640x408 pixels; 116 KB)
The flowers of Sambucus nigra are also edible and used to make a refreshing drink.  They usually occur in tight clusters, but may here be seen more clearly. Click to see big picture (530x480 pixels; 114 KB)
Viburnum costaricanum may be found in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama, where it is known as Conchudo.  It is sometime planted as a windbreak, giving rise to its other popular name of Paraviento. Click to see big picture (491x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Somewhat farther north, Viburnum acutifolium ranges from Mexico to Honduras, but is here fruiting in the botanical gardens at U.C. Berkeley. Click to see big picture (548x480 pixels; 94 KB)
An unidentified viburnum in Oaxaca State, Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x427 pixels; 121 KB)
Valerianaceae, the Valerian Family boasts about 350 species.  Here is an attractive example, one of several species at home in the high paramos of Columbia. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 122 KB)
From Papallacta Pass east of Quito, this is Valeriana microphylla, native to the Andes of Ecuador and northern Peru.
A closer look the the flower head of Valeriana microphylla.


The Apiales Order is thought to have somewhere between 3500 and 4000 species, but the great majority belong to Apiaceae, the Carrot Family.  (Some still call it by its older handle, Umbeliferae).  Here in the Neotropics, however, the Ivy Family, Araliaceae is also of importance.

 
Myrrhidendron donnell-smithii is about as close as the carrot family comes to producing a tree.  Its weird forms haunt the higher mountains from Guatemala to Panama, here on Cerro de la Muerte, Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (403x480 pixels; 65 KB)
A closer look at Myrrhidendron donnell-smithii, whose local name is Arracachillo. Click to see big picture (586x480 pixels; 171 KB)
Everything else is super-sized, but the flowers of Arracachillo are small, in a flat cluster, typical of the carrot family. Click to see big picture (589x480 pixels; 111 KB)
From Volcan Baru in western Panama, this appears to be Myrrhidendron maxonii, which is confined to that nation. Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 127 KB)
The seed pods of Myrrhidendron maxonii are overgrown versions of seed forms common in the Apiaceae. Click to see big picture (507x480 pixels; 153 KB)
From alpine trees to alpine herbs, this would be Arracasia elata.  It ranges from here, high in the mountains of Columbia, to similar heights in Peru.  Local names include Apio del Paramo and Zanahoria del Monte.  (Apio (celery) is another gift of the Apiaceae). Click to see big picture (578x480 pixels; 150 KB)
A Azorella genus entails cushion plants in the alpine zones of the Andes.  In this case A. pedunculata from the paramo adjacent to Chimborazo Mountains, Ecuador's highest.
This mat-forming herb goes by the name of Eryngium humile.  It may be found high in the mountains of Costa Rica and western Panama. Click to see big picture (553x480 pixels; 135 KB)
Dead and dried, Eryngium humile gives the impression of a wooden flower. Click to see big picture (458x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Eryngium carlinae is native from Mexico to Panama, and known as Hierba de Sapo (frog herb).  It is an invasive weed, but some have invited it into their gardens. Click to see big picture (541x480 pixels; 138 KB)
The larger Eryngium alternatum seems confined to southern Mexico as its native range, but has been planted as Mexican Sea Holly. Click to see big picture (442x480 pixels; 132 KB)
A tall and attractive Eryngium sp. in the mountains of Oaxaca Province. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 84 KB)


Araliaceae is the Ivy Family or the Ginseng Family.  Estimates of its size vary widely, and its boundaries seem poorly defined at the moment.  It is very close to Carrot Family, and the two may be involved in a shotgun marriage in the future.  At the present it ranges from marsh herbs to vines to timber trees.

 
The Hydrocotyle genus are known as Water Pennyworts, with many rather similar species inhabiting damp areas.  This one is used as ground cover in a coffee plantation in northern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (578x480 pixels; 134 KB)
A closer look at the Water Pennywort, a lowly but widespread genus, which was originally with the Apiaceae. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 96 KB)
Hydrocotyle umbellata (or incrassata) is a distinctive member of the Water Pennyworts, also known as the Marsh Pennywort.  It may be found  is shallow waters from the U.S. to Chile and Argentina, here growing happily in the cess pond of a Panama resort.
From a swamp herb to a small tree.  This is Schefflera rodriguesiana which may be found in the highlands of Costa Rica and Panama.  It is one of several species known as Cacho de Venado (stag horn). Click to see big picture (379x480 pixels; 109 KB)
Schefflera angulata is found in the southern Andes of Ecuador.  Here it is high in the Condor Range on the Ecuador-Peru border, showing its seed balls and the cecropia-like splay of leaves.
We now turn to a full blown timber tree.  White barked Schefflera morototoni is widespread in the Neotropics, here in Panama.  It tends to be called Yagrumo Macho, confusing it with cecropias, again because of the leaves.
Oreopanax floribudus calls the mountains of Columbia home, this one has wound up in the Bogota botanical gardens.  Mano de Oso (bear paw) is one of the local names, clearly from the shape of the leaves. Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 98 KB)
This is likely Oreopanax pycnocarpus, a tree near the mountain town of Dota in central Costa Rica.  The locals called it Mano de Piedra (stone hand). Click to see big picture (584x480 pixels; 106 KB)
A closer look at the unusual fruit clusters of Oreopanax pycnocarpus.  The fruit will be purple when ripe. Click to see big picture (582x480 pixels; 80 KB)
Oreopanax xalapensis (likely) ranges from southern Mexico to Panama, and is here in the latter. Click to see big picture (447x480 pixels; 110 KB)
We turn to the mountains of southwestern Mexico for the fruit of Oreopanax Xalapensis, which is known here as Mano de Leon.
While Oreopanax ecuadorensis may be found mainly in the mountains of Ecuador and Colombia.  Photo from the botanical gardens in Quito.
Pittosporum tobira is known as Japanese Cheesewood of the small Pittosporum Family.  It indeed originated in Japan, but is now very widely planted in the Neotropics as an ornamental and as hedges.  There are several cultivars. Click to see big picture (566x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Escalloniaceae family stated out with the Saxifrages, but is now an unplaced Asterid.  This is Escallonia paniculata in the botanical gardens at Bogota.  It is at home from Panama and Venezuela to Peru under the name of Tibar. Click to see big picture (456x480 pixels; 89 KB)
While this is Escallonia myrtilloides, to be found from here in the highlands of Columbia down to Argentina.  It answers to the name of Cipresillo, although in no way related to the cypresses. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 104 KB)
And finally, from the shakily defined Icacinaceae Family, these are the Aunusual seeds of Calatola Columbiana (or Costaricana), the Palo de Papa tree.  It is also known as Azulillo, due to the blue color of its sap.  At lower elevations from south Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (640x457 pixels; 118 KB)
We catch up with the Calatola Columbiana tree itself at the Botanical Gardens of Bogota.