DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora- CORE MALVACEAE  

 

This page presents some species from the core or original Malvaceae or Mallow Family, before having been expanded by inclusion of the Bombacaceae, Tiliaceae, Steruliaceae and Bixaceae.  Those taxons, together with other families of the Malvales Order, have their own page here.

Malvaceae is known as either the Mallow or Hibiscus Family.  It can claim several tropical garden flowers and some noxious weeds, but economically its most important crop is cotton.  In its original (sensu stricto) form it contained somewhere between 1000 and 1500 species, depending on the authority counting. 

 

There are roughly 200 species in the Hibiscus genus, with a host of cultivars.  The term Cayena is often used in Latin America.  Hibiscus rosa-sinensis hales from Asia, where it is the national flower of Malaysia and has both medicinal and religious importance.  It has been widely planted in the Neotropics, however, and has widely escaped.  Click to see big picture (344x480 pixels; 58 KB)
Another widely planted species is Hibiscus schizopetalus, the Fringed Rosemallow, also known as Skeleton Hibiscus.  This is native to east Africa, but is planted around the tropics.
The Sea (or Beach) Hibiscus may be found inland from the mangroves on coastlines through much of the Neotropics.  Talipariti tiliaceum, alias Hibiscus pernambucensis.  It goes by several local names, including Mahoe, and the flowers turn reddish with age. Click to see big picture (512x480 pixels; 92 KB)
This shows the rapid color changes in the Mahoe flowers from yellow to red.
Under names such as Wax Mallow and Turk's Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus is a popular landscaping plant in warmer parts of the Americas.  It has the additional attraction of edible fruit. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 106 KB)
Malvaviscus penduliflorus, the Sleeping Hibiscus is not known in the wild, and was likely developed in early times in Mexican agriculture, where it is known as Mazapan. Click to see big picture (460x480 pixels; 75 KB)
There are roughly 150 species in the Abutilon genus, and many cultivars.  The misleading term Flowering Maples stems from the shape of their leaves.  They inhabit the tropics everywhere, and in Mesoamerica often go by the name Farolito.  This one is from western Panama. Click to see big picture (458x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Abutilon pictum (or striatum) started its career in the southern Amazon region, but has been planted and naturalized in Central America, and in fact is found widely in tropical and subtropical gardens. Click to see big picture (304x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Although abutilons are normally associated with hot climates, this confused case was caught blooming in winter 200 km south of Santiago, Chile.  It looks like A. pictum again, or some cultivar thereof.  Leaf shape is variable. Click to see big picture (339x480 pixels; 58 KB)
Abutilon megapotamicum is a child of temperate climates south of the Amazon basin, and is hence a cold-tolerant garden favorite, in this case at the botanical gardens of San Francisco.  Trailing Abutilon is the most common English name, while Linterna China (Chinese lanterns) is heard in Mesoamerica. Click to see big picture (578x480 pixels; 92 KB)
The flower and seed pod look like Abutilon dugesii. A roadside weed in Baja Mexico. Click to see big picture (499x480 pixels; 69 KB)
Another yellow species from western Panama. Click to see big picture (535x480 pixels; 88 KB)
And one more from near Bogota, Colombia.  The hybrids are so common, that it is usual to simply pass these off as Abutilon X hybrid. Click to see big picture (488x480 pixels; 99 KB)
There is evidence that Gossypium hirsutum was used to make cotton fabrics as long ago as 5000 years in Mexico.  It also has an attractive flower. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 87 KB)
Gossypium hirsutum varieties are still the major source of commercial cotton.  Known as Upland or Mexican Cotton, it occurs both wild and escaped in Mesoamerica.  Here is a look a wild cotton bolls in central Nicaragua.  Algodon in Spanish. Click to see big picture (640x402 pixels; 139 KB)
Wercklea (or Hibiscus) insignis mainly graces Costa Rica, despite the fact that it is called Panama.  Here it is in the Toro Valley. Click to see big picture (584x480 pixels; 117 KB)
Wercklea (or Hibiscus) ferox ranges from Costa Rica to Ecuador.  The red structures are just the calyx, I missed the yellow petals. Click to see big picture (398x480 pixels; 93 KB)
Anoda cristata is a handsome if common weed through much of the Neotropics.  It goes by names such as Spurred (or Crested) Anoda. Click to see big picture (640x475 pixels; 111 KB)
The seed here looks like what is being called Anoda acerifolia of the northern Neotropics.  Some, who care about such things, would say this is just another form of A. cristata. Click to see big picture (472x480 pixels; 64 KB)
Thespesia populnea, the Portia Tree, likely started out in India but is now found in coastal areas across the tropics.  In has proved invasive in some localities, notably Hawaii.  Click to see big picture (577x480 pixels; 113 KB)
The leaves would suggest that this tree from the islands in northwestern Panama is of the Hampea genus. Click to see big picture (603x480 pixels; 128 KB)
Malvastrum coromandelianum is a global weed spawned by the Neotropics.  It has many names, Prickly Malvastrum and False Mallow being common in English, while Huinare is popular in Mexico.  As an indication of its wide distribution, this photo was taken in Tanzania. Click to see big picture (340x480 pixels; 68 KB)
These are the flowers of the Bladder Mallow (Herissantia crispa), a neotropical species which is now a pantropical weed.  Photo from southwest Mexico.
There are some 150-200 members of the Sida genus, largely low and forgettable weeds.  This one hangs out in Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x473 pixels; 127 KB)
In this Mexican case, the leaves look like Sida rhombifolia, the widespread Arrowleaf Sida; while the flower looks more like S. cordifolia, pantropical from India. Click to see big picture (445x480 pixels; 62 KB)
Sida abutifolia, of the tropics and subtropics.  Known as the Fanpetal Sida in English and Buen Dia in Mesoamerica. Click to see big picture (375x480 pixels; 113 KB)
Prickly Fanpetals or Sida spinosa is a pantropical weed, here near a warm springs in the Darien of Panama. 
Abelmoschus esculenta is better known Okra.  It is African by origin, and this photo is from a farm near the Tanzania-Mozambique border.  As a food, however it has been planted throughout the tropics, and in Central America its most common name seems to be Gombo. okra
Heliocarpus popayanensis is a troubled taxon, but the tree itself is thriving through much of the Neotropics, except for the Amazon Basin.  It is here in the Santa Marta Mountains of northeastern Colombia.