DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora- THE GESNERIADS  

 

Gesneriaceae is known as either the Gesneria or the African Violet Family, and the plants are widely referred to as Gesneriads.  There are presently about 3200 species, but changes are occurring at the time of writing.  Virtually all are tropical or sub-tropical, and many are noted for their flowers.  There is a book by Ricardo Kriebel Haehner, Gesneriads of Costa Rica, which is in both English and Spanish and published by the Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad of that country.  Websites for groups devoted to the gesneriads may be found at www.gesneriadsociety.org and www.gesneriads.ca

A somewhat surprising result of DNA analysis, is that the gesneriads appear to be very closely related to the Calceolariaceae or Slipper Plant Family, and three species from that group are also appended.

 

Drymonia genus constitutes about 150 species, largely of hummingbird pollinated epiphytes.  This frilly flower would be D. lanceolata, found in both Costa Rica and Panama; in this case a cloud forest in the former. Click to see big picture (416x480 pixels; 57 KB)
Over the same native range, we find Drymonia rubra, shown here with its fruit.  Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 85 KB)
This is a view of the actual Drymonia rubra plant, which is an epiphyte with a liana-like character.  From the Monte Verde cloud forest of Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 83 KB)
The flowers of Drymonia coriacea look a bit like spiny orange guppies, backed by a big red calyx.  Click to see big picture (640x457 pixels; 118 KB)
A Drymonia coriacea plant in the Sarapiqui area of Costa Rica.  Its native range is from Nicaragua to Peru. Click to see big picture (595x480 pixels; 187 KB)
Drymonia stenophylla is another large epiphyte which may be found from Nicaragua to Colombia.  Note the red spider lurking in the upper blossom. Click to see big picture (400x480 pixels; 77 KB)
This appears to be Drymonia turrialvae at the Wildsumaco reserve in Ecuador.  The red bracts are striking, but suspiciously bright for this species.  The white flowers are not showing.
From the same reserve, and again without flowers protruding, this is Drymonia affinis.
This Colombian resident, on the other hand, has the red calyx, but nothing else to help with identification. Click to see big picture (399x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Also from Colombia, this is Drymonia serrulata, which is at home from southern Mexico to the Amazon.  It is named for the teeth on the edge of its leaves. Click to see big picture (416x480 pixels; 53 KB)
Drymonia serrulata also comes in yellow.  Unlike most of its genus, this species is vine-like.  Note the teeth on the leaves. Click to see big picture (587x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Enough of the Drymonias.  This is Kohleria spicata blooming in the Arenal region of Costa Rica.  It is widespread, however, and one is equally likely to find it from southern Mexico to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (640x479 pixels; 106 KB)
It is also quite variable, and some view the species as less hairy and with a freckled face, as here in the Wild Sumaco Reserve of Ecuador.
Pearcea (or Kohleria) sprucei is mainly found in the mountains of Euador and Peru, here from Wildsumaco in the former.
Pearcea rhodotricha is mainly found in the amazonian regions of Ecuador, but is here in the Jatun Sacha Reserve of the upper Napo Valley.
Kohleria bogotensis flowering in its home town.  It is now more properly addressed as Kohleria amablis, variety bogotensis, and is far more likely to be met in gardens than here in Colombia and Ecuador. Click to see big picture (516x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Kohleria tigridia used to be known as Capanea grandiflora.  It is a bat-pollinated epiphyte of the Colombian and Ecuadorian Andes.  Alas, this flower is getting a bit old and disheveled. Click to see big picture (308x480 pixels; 60 KB)
This unidentified species looks like a colorful cousin of Kohleria tigridia, seen where the Coca Highway crosses the Hollin River in Ecuador.
Moussonia papillosa is likely the same as M. elegans, and its home base is in southern Mexico.  This one, however, has been abducted to the botanical gardens at UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (536x480 pixels; 85 KB)
In the Sierra Maihuatlan of southwestern Mexico, we encounter Moussonia deppeana, found from here to Costa Rica.
In the cloud forests near Monte Verde, Costa Rica, Glossoloma tetragonum does not seem to mind having had its genus name switched from Alloplectus Click to see big picture (417x480 pixels; 141 KB)
And from the same forest, an unidentified species with a similar shape of flower. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Glossoloma (or Alloplectus) ichthyoderma is native to highland forests from Costa Rica to Peru, here in Ecuador.  The red bracts make it a handsome plant, even without the flowers, which are just starting to show.
Alloplectus weirii is a vine, which is unusual for its genus.  It has been reported from Nicaragua to Peru.
At Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador, another look at the Alloplectus weirii vine and leaves.
Episcia cupreata is best known as a house plant, but here it is in a Bogota garden, and it is native from Colombia down to Brazil and Peru.  This genus is known as Flame Violets in garden circles, but the violets are not relatives. Click to see big picture (503x480 pixels; 128 KB)
From the Jatun Sacha Reserve in central Ecuador, this appears to be Gasteranthus corallinus, native from southern Columbia to Peru.
Again from Jatun Sacha, Monopyle macrocarpa, a variable species that ranges from Panama to Peru.  Perhaps a species complex.
Flowering in the Juan Castro Blanco Reserve in Costa Rica, the white calyxes indicate Besleria triflora, which may be found from here to Columbia.  This fits with the above-listed text on Costa Rican gesneriads, but there have been some strange things posted under that name. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 118 KB)
Chrysothemis pulchella is a popular tropical ornamental.  It is native from here in Costa Rica to Ecuador, but more widely planted under names such as Sunset Bells.  Locally, the term Pichelitos is common. Click to see big picture (580x480 pixels; 147 KB)
And at the other end of its range, Pichelitos again, at the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador.
From the Boquet area of Panama, this unusual flower (which seems to be foaming at the mouth), looks like it might be a Gesneriad, but the leaves are something different. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 101 KB)
The Columnea genus boasts some 200 species, many in Central American, which can make identifications uncertain.  Based on the narrow leaves and pink flower, this seems to be Columnea linearis. Click to see big picture (640x366 pixels; 109 KB)
Columnea linearis is an epiphytic bush which ranges from Honduras to Costa Rica.  Here is a closer view of its flower. Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 109 KB)
Columnea lepidocaulis appears to be endemic to Costa Rica, in this case the Toro Valley. Click to see big picture (640x440 pixels; 117 KB)
A side view of the Columnea lepidocaulis flower, showing its two-color pattern.  The plant is an epiphyte of moderate size. Click to see big picture (625x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Columnea sanguinolenta is a resident of Panama and Costa Rica.  It is recognized by its frilly calyx and by the red dot on the underside of each leaf. Click to see big picture (640x408 pixels; 126 KB)
But when it comes to red-marked leaves, Columnea (or Dahlbergaria) cruenta is the master.  It is Panamanian, in this case in the Kuna Yaki area. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 145 KB)
And from Panama's San Blas Mountains, the rosy-tipped leaves of Columnea zebrina stand in for its comparatively dowdy yellow and brown flowers.  Also found in Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x420 pixels; 115 KB)
Reported from both the Amazon basin and adjacent uplands from Columbia to Peru, this is Columnea villosissima, near the town of Tena, in Ecuador.
Both the flower and leaf ribs of Columnea villosissima are hairy, as the name implies.  It is found a low to moderate altitudes from Colombia to Peru.
An unidentified, all red Columnea growing as an epiphyte on a calabash tree on the northwest coast of Panama.  It even has red hairs. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Looking quite different, meet Columnea micorphylla.  A native of Costa Rica, this has become a popular house plant in tropical areas.  Matthaei Gardens, Michigan.
This Carpa Dorada (goldfish) Bush appears to be Columnea rubricaulis, which is reported from here in northern Nicaragua and from southern Honduras.  Unfortunately, and purple-flowered species is also posted under this name. Click to see big picture (640x398 pixels; 116 KB)
From Ecuador's Wildsumaco Reserve, a fuzzy pink flower which I have not been able to identify.

To the surprise of many, DNA analysis has indicated that the Slipper Plant Family, Calceolariaceae, is a close relative of the Gesneriads.  Most species in this family are in the Calceolaria genus itself, with almost 400 species.  These are not tropical by nature, however, and the few that call Mesoamerica home tend to stay well up in the cool of the Andes.  In Latin America, the term Capuchitos (little hoods) is common.

 
Judging by the leaves and the light calyx, this capuchito high on Volcan Baru in Panama, would be Calceolaria microbefaria.  It crops up in the mountains from Costa Rica to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (307x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Another Calceolaria on Volcan Baru has leaves that look like they belong on a sow thistle.  No identification. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 110 KB)
Calceolaria irazuensis is a mountain dweller of both Costa Rica and Panama.  Here it is in Quetzal Park of the former. Click to see big picture (279x480 pixels; 66 KB)
A closer look at Calceolaria irazuensis, rooted far from home in the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (575x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Calceolaria lamiifolia, with its mint-like leaves, seems confined to the mountains of Ecuador, here at Cayambi-Coca Park.