DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
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  Flora:  ONAGRACEAE & LYTHRACEAE  

 

Onagraceae is almost always referred to as the Evening Primrose Family, while Lythraceae goes by both the names of Crape Myrtle and Loosestrife.  The two families are united in being members of the Myrtales Order.

There are some 650 species presently lodged in the Onagraceae, which is well known for both attractive garden flowers and for weeds.  In general, they are not really a tropical group, although both the Fuchsia and Ludwegia genera are at home here.
 

There are roughly 110 species of fuchsia, and many cultivars.  Most are neotropical, and many have edible berries.  In Mesoamerica, the general name is Aretillo.  This one is known as the Chili Pepper Fuchsia from a cloud forest of Costa Rica, in formal company Fuchsia splendens. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 147 KB)
Fuchsia splendens is native from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, and the fruit seen here is said to be tasty.  Click to see big picture (365x480 pixels; 84 KB)
Fuchsia paniculata graces the mountains from central Mexico to Colombia.  Known as Shrubby Fuchsia, this is from part way up Volcan Baru in Panama. Click to see big picture (480x240 pixels; 65 KB)
Fruit and a broader view of Fuchsia paniculata, common in the cordillera of Mesoamerica. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 120 KB)
Fuchsia arborescens looks a lot like F. paniculata, but is here identified at the botanical gardens in San Francisco.  It would be at home in southern Mexico and Central America.  Lilac Fuchsia in garden circles, and Aretillo in Latin America. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 146 KB)
Fuchsia fulgens originated in the mountains of Mexico, but is more usually met in gardens under the name of Brilliant Fuchsia.  The San Francisco gardens on right, Univ. of Berkeley on left. Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 110 KB)
There seems to be several subspecies of Fuchsia encliandra, this one presented at the botanical gardens at University of Berkeley. Click to see big picture (595x480 pixels; 96 KB)
While this is offered as Fuchsia encliandra across the Bay at the San Francisco Gardens.  The species in nature may be found from southern Mexico to Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (430x440 pixels; 83 KB)
Fuchsia ravenii, yet another Mexican. Click to see big picture (503x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Switching to Colombia, this is Fuchsia boliviana, a common species in the mountains of the southern Neotropics.  As it tolerates temperate climates, it is a widespread garden favorite. Click to see big picture (546x480 pixels; 129 KB)
Fuchsia vulcanica or canescens is found in the montains of Ecuador and Columbia.  Here, near the Papallacta Hotsprings east of Quito, it is known as Arete del Monte.
Fuchsia scabriuscula? is reported largely from the high Andes of Ecuador, in this case from Cayambe-coca Park.
Fuchsia loxensis is another cold-tolerant species used widely in gardens, in this case in San Francisco, on loan from the mountains of Ecuador. Click to see big picture (429x480 pixels; 92 KB)
From the same gardens, Fuchsia dependens from the highlands of Colombia and Ecuador.  Known to gardeners as the Sunset Fuchsia.  Some classify this as a form of F. Boliviana. Click to see big picture (387x480 pixels; 122 KB)
Fuchsia microphylla seems to have several varieties, most with jagged leaf edges such as this.  Its range is from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x421 pixels; 89 KB)
This is the aprica subspecies of Fuchsia microphylla, found on a mountain in Guatemala and presented at the botanical gardens at Univ. of Berkeley. Click to see big picture (554x480 pixels; 127 KB)
Plants of the Ludwigia genus are usually called Water Primroses, and in Mesoamerica as Ludwigias.   There are many species of similar appearance and taxonomic confusion.  There can be 4, 5 or 6 petals, and several species are widely used in aquariums. Click to see big picture (400x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Ludwigia octovalvis approx. Known as the Mexican Water Primrose, it is now a pantropical problem from a neotropical beginning.  Here seen on Isla Colon, northwestern Panama. Click to see big picture (523x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Ludwigia hexapetala can have both five and six flower petals and is known as the Creeping Water Primrose.  There are those which would lump this and L. grandiflora into L. uruguayensis. Click to see big picture (318x480 pixels; 82 KB)
An unidentified Ludwegia from the mountains of northern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x445 pixels; 96 KB)
This unusual member of the Evening Primrose family is Lopezia longiflora.  In nature it is found in a restricted range in Mexico, but it has entered the garden trade, in this case the Botanical Gardens of San Francisco. Click to see big picture (640x393 pixels; 79 KB)
Lopezia paniculata, on the other hand is a fancy flower species endemic to Panama.  Photo from the lower slopes of Volcan Baru in western parts of the country.


Lythraceae is known as both the Crape Myrtle Family after an important garden genus, and as the Loosestrife Family after some notorious weeds.  It has now been awarded the pomegranate, which is sufficiently prestigious that it may eventually represent the family, which is said to have about 620 species at the moment.  Most of the plants of interest here are from the Cuphea genus, 260 members strong and mainly neotropical.

 
From high on Volcan Baru, Panama, this would be Cuphea appendiculata which favors the Andes from southern Mexico to Peru. Click to see big picture (453x480 pixels; 86 KB)
Cuphea nudicostata is sufficiently striking that it has become a garden item, in this case at the University of Berkeley.  It goes by the name of Chiapis Shade Cuphea, and has the synonym of Cuphea nelsonii. Click to see big picture (640x437 pixels; 91 KB)
From the KEW gardens, Cuphea ignea.  Known as the Cigar Plant, this species started out in Mexico and the Caribbean. Click to see big picture (587x480 pixels; 94 KB)
A three-colored Cuphea? from southern Mexico. Click to see big picture (551x480 pixels; 67 KB)
A pink Cuphea? from the Santa Marta Mountains in northeastern Colombia.
With hairs on flowers and leaf edges, this would be Cuphea pinetorum, ranging from Mexico to Nicaragua, according to the botanical gardens in San Francisco. Click to see big picture (428x480 pixels; 70 KB)
Despite the reddish foliage, this photo appears to be of C. pinetorum again near Oaxaca. Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 103 KB)
Known by names such as Tropical Waxweed and Mexican Loosestrife, Cuphea aequipetala, was at home from Mexico to Honduras even before it was adopted in garden circles.  Here in Oaxaca is is known as Hierba de Cancer, and is used in folk medicine to tread cancer, inflammation and other ailments. Click to see big picture (640x404 pixels; 70 KB)
Native to the mountains from Colombia to Peru, Lafoensia acuminata is know as the Guayacan de Manizales, at least here in Colombia.  Botanical Gardens of Bogota.
Also with a native range of southern Mexico to Honduras, Cuphea hyssopifolia is now widespread, and invasive in Hawaii.  With flower colors from white to pink and purple, it goes by names such as Mexican Heather and Elfin Herb. Click to see big picture (605x480 pixels; 75 KB)
Pehria compacta is recorded through much of the central Neotropics, but this is a taxonomic nightmare.  Some would put it with the white-flowered Adenaria floribunda.  A weed in a coffee plantation in northern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x412 pixels; 155 KB)
Crape Myrtle is one of the names for the Lythraceae family, and although southeast Asian in origin, the Lagerstroemia genus is widely planted in Central America for obvious reasons.  Likely L. tuscarora, judging by the leaves. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 173 KB)
There are about 50 species of Crape Myrtle before even starting on the cultivars.  For the most part they are trees with abundant and long-lasting flowers varying from white to red in color.  The two-tone leaves of this tree from the Gamboa Rainforest Lodge in Panama suggests it is Lagerstroemia speciosa, known here as Reina de las Flores. Click to see big picture (640x443 pixels; 169 KB)
The Pomegranate originated in the Middle East and is now planted throughout the warmer parts of earth.  Punica Granatum once had its own family, but it has now been tossed into the Lythraceae.  The fruit is widely known with many historical references and medicinal claims, and the juice is gaining popularity.  Few realize, however,  that the vivid flowers would make this a garden plant even without the fruit. pomegranate flower