DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  MALPIGHIALES & OXILIDALES ORDERS  

 

The Malpighiales Order is large, with roughly 16,000 species.  Genetically, the order is said to hold together quite well, but at time of writing, the circumscription of its families is still a work in progress.  There may be anywhere from 32 to 42 families, depending on how they are defined. Two of the more important families, namely the Spurge (Euphorbiaceae) and Passionflower (Passifloraceae) from this order have been given a separate page, and may be found here.  On the other hand, a few contributions from the closely related Oxalidales Order have been appended.

Malpighiaceae is commonly known as the Nance or Acerola Family, after two tropical fruit.  It has some 1300 species, all of which are tropical, and mainly neotropical.  Some species are unusual in that they offer oils rather than nectar or pollen to attract insects.

 

Nance is a small, yellow fruit which is widely enjoyed in the tropics.  This is its source tree, Byrsonima crassifolia, which was traditionally grown through much of the Neotropics, under many local names.  It has now been planted in Africa and Asia as well. Click to see big picture (640x473 pixels; 79 KB)
Galphimia gracilis is native to Mexico, and has now been planted in the Orient and elsewhere as a garden item and as a source of homeopathic medicine.  This photo is from Borneo.  Golden Shower Thryalis is one of its many names.  (Galphimia is an anagram for malpighia.) Click to see big picture (602x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Stigmaphyllon ellipticum is a vine native to Mesoamerica  This one is climbing in the Bajo Mono area of western Panama.  The photo emphasizes the flower form common for the Malphigia genus, with petals attached by long 'stems' in windmill fashion. Click to see big picture (620x480 pixels; 78 KB)
Stigmaphyllon bogotense is native to the northwestern Neotropics.  It is here at the mouth of the Palamino River on Colombia's northern coast.
A fuller view of the Stigmaphyllon bogotense vine, growing in sandy beach soil.
Stigmaphyllon paralias is a widespread species in the Neotropics, but it is again here appearing on a coast, in this case the Pacific Coast of Panama's Darien Province.


The Mangosteen Family, Clusiaceae also goes by the name Guttiferae.  There have been changes, and it is now down to about 14 genera and less than 600 species.  These are mainly tropical, but of varied morphology.

 
Clusia octopetala seems confined to Columbia, here in the Botanical Gardens in Bogota.  The Clusia genus tends to be referred to as Chucharo in Colombia.  This species is the subject of pharmacological research. Click to see big picture (520x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Clusia rosea is the most famous species of its genus.  It is known as the Autograph Tree or Scotch Attorney as writing may be scratched on the leaves.  It appears to be Caribbean in origin, but is now widespread in the northern Neotropics and beyond. Click to see big picture (582x480 pixels; 73 KB)
The fruit of Clusia rosea is poisonous and sometimes called a Pitch Apple.  In its native Latin America, this species goes by names such as Copey, Azahar and Matapalo. Click to see big picture (611x480 pixels; 72 KB)
As with some others of the genus, the fruit opens into a thick eight-point star, which is a lasting item. Click to see big picture (549x480 pixels; 126 KB)
Clusia croatii, presents a striking flower in its range of Nicaragua to Panama. Click to see big picture (640x431 pixels; 94 KB)
Of the 20 species of Clusia in Costa Rica, one must have pods whose points end in these odd fingers. Click to see big picture (517x480 pixels; 69 KB)
The fruit of Tovomita weddeliana is known from Nicaragua to Peru, but seems concentrated in Panama, here in the San Blas mountains. Click to see big picture (537x480 pixels; 98 KB)
Chrysochlamys glauca fruit in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica.  Nicaragua to Colombia Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 75 KB)
A family termed Calophyllaceae has recently been split off the Clusiaceae. and this includes the Mammee Apple, Mammea americana.  It is also known as the South American Apricot and may be eaten cooked or raw.  The sap is used to repel chiggers.  Neotropical in origin, now pantropical. Click to see big picture (551x480 pixels; 86 KB)

Ochnaceae goes by the odd name of Wild Plane Family.  It can boast 53 genera, and roughly 600 species, mainly neotropical.
 
Ouratea lucens is known as the Mickey Mouse Plant, due to the odd form of its fruit, which at times does indeed look a bit like mouse ears.  This unusual species may be found from southern Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (426x480 pixels; 81 KB)
This appears to be some other species of Ouratea, from a cloud forest in northern Nicaragua.  Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 77 KB)
Cespidesia spathulata is a tree fairly widespread in the Neotropics.  Here at Jatun Sacha Gardens in Ecuador.
From the hills of northeastern Panama, Sauvagesia erecta, is known as Creole Tea.  It is neotropical in origin, but is now also found in parts of Africa. Click to see big picture (640x455 pixels; 76 KB)


Rhizophoraceae once had its own order, but its genes proved insufficiently distinct, and it has now been demoted to a family within the Malpighiales. It is best known for its mangrove species.

 
Rhizophora mangle is known as the Red Mangrove, or as Mangle rojo in Latin America.  It is found along neotropical coasts and some foreign shores as well. Click to see big picture (535x480 pixels; 78 KB)
This is what a Red Mangrove looks like.  It makes it very difficult to reach a coastline, but is important for many species of aquatic life. Click to see big picture (522x480 pixels; 142 KB)
Cassipourea elliptica is a large tree found along Caribbean and Central American coasts, where it is known as Huesito, among other names.  Here it is flowering on Zapatilla Island, Panama. Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 94 KB)


The Saint John's-wort Family, Hypericaceae, is not well adapted to tropical forests, preferring temperate climates.  The few species which are found in Central America are usually confined to alpine zones known as paramos in the higher ranges.

 
Hypericum irazuense, here seen at about 3000 meters altitude on Cerro de la Muerte Mountain in Costa Rica.  It is named for nearby Volcan Irazu, and is likely confined to the mountains of Costa Rica and adjacent parts of Panama.  Known locally as Culandro. Click to see big picture (602x480 pixels; 131 KB)
Switching to the paramo around Volcan Ruiz in Colombia, Hypericum here tend to be called either Chite or Falso Pino.  The species are not easy to tell apart, but this appears to be Hypericum juniperinum, with juniper-like leaves. Click to see big picture (619x480 pixels; 113 KB)
And this species with a twisted flower looks like Hypericum laricifolium.  It is a feature of the paramos of Colombia and Ecuador. Click to see big picture (543x480 pixels; 89 KB)
In the paramo of Cayambe_Coca Park in the Andes east of Quito, this once again is Hypericum laricifolium
A clearer view of the plant itself.  Here in northern Ecuador, Hypericum larcifolium is known as Romarillo.
Yet another Hypericum from the Volcan Ruiz area.  Click to see big picture (640x468 pixels; 95 KB)


The Violet Family, Violaceae, is another case of a botanical order which was demoted and stuffed into the Malpighiales as a family.  It has about 800 species, over half of which are in the Viola genus.  Only a few of these are really at home in the tropics.

 
Blooming high in the Condor Range between Peru and Ecuador, this appears to be Viola scandens, which inhabits mountains from southern Mexico clear to Bolivia. Click to see big picture (424x480 pixels; 94 KB)
It may be called Viola guatemalensis, but it is here in Quetzel Park in the mountains of Costa Rica.  In fact it is said to range from Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (640x456 pixels; 154 KB)
The simplified flowers of Hybanthus attenuatus in Tepotzlan, Mexico.  There is a rumor that this genus is likely to be broken up.  Most species have narrower leaves than this.  Despite appearances, it is in the Violet Family. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 69 KB)
Out of the Chrysobalanaceae or Coco Plum Family, this is likely Licania arborea or a close relative.  It is a sizeable tree, and in its range from southern Mexico to Peru it is known by names such as Falso Roble and Alcornoque, both terms comparing it to unrelated oak trees. Click to see big picture (611x480 pixels; 140 KB)
The Cocoplum Bush is native to the Neotropical coastlines and also found now in west Africa.  These are the flowers in Tayrona Park on Colombia's Caribbean coast.
Xylosma spiculifera is from the expanded Salicaceae or Willow Family.  It is a tree of the Colombian highlands, where it is known as Corono.  The fruit will turn black when ripe, but are only for the wildlife. Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 102 KB)
Casearia obovalis is a tree of the western Amazon and adjacent uplands.  Here are the fruit presented at the Botanical Gardens of Jatun Sacha in central Ecuador where it is known as Puma Muyu.
Casearia guianensis is known as Guyanese Wild Coffee, these are the flowers.  This tree inhabits the northern Neotropics, here at the Guatusos Reserve in Nicaragua on the Costa Rican border.
And a little farther east, along the San Juan River, this Lunania parviflora with catkin-like floral strings.
A striking eight-flange pod, courtesy of Carpotroche platyptera of the Achariaceae family.  The species ranges from Honduras to Ecuador, and here in Nicaragua is one of the trees called Caraña. Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 90 KB)
The leaves of Carpotroche platyptera are also distinctive.  The Achariaceae family had only six species until it received a dump from the breakup of the Flacourtiaceae, including this unusual tree. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 78 KB)

The Oxalidales Order is closely related to the Malpighiales according to those who have been probing their genes.  It is comprised of just seven families, of which its namesake, the Oxalidacaea or Wood Sorrel Family, is the largest with around 900 species to its credit.


 
Oxalis magnifica is at home in southern Mexico, but is here looking proud at the botanical gardens at Univ. of Berkeley. Click to see big picture (219x480 pixels; 70 KB)
Oxalis tetraphylla is known as the Iron Cross Oxalis, and sometimes as the Mexican Goodluck Plant.  It is indeed Mexican in origin, but has been spread by gardening. Click to see big picture (595x480 pixels; 85 KB)
A closer look at the unusual leaf which gives the Iron Cross Oxalis its name. Click to see big picture (640x451 pixels; 138 KB)
Oxalis latifolia is native to tropical and sub-tropical America, but it has now spread well beyond, in fact this photo is from Tanzania.  Outside of its natural range, the Broadleaf Wood Sorrel has proved invasive. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 134 KB)
Flowers of Oxalis tuberosa await the sun to open, near Baeza, Ecuador.  This is an andean species, now widely planted for its edible roots.  It is most widely known as Oca, but here more as Hibia.
Oxalis lotoides is unusual for its genus, as it is vine-like in its habit.  It may be found in the high Andes from Venezuela to Bolivia.  Here at Cayambe-Coca Park paramo of Ecuador it is known as Chulko.
This perky herb from central Nicaragua is Oxalis frutescens, judging by the unusual leaf pattern.  It is found through much of the Neotropics, and goes by the name of Cancena. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 87 KB)
Switching to the Elaeocarpaceae family, this is the pod of Sloanea tuerckheimii, found through much of the Neotropics. As with several types of spiny pods, this is known as Peine de Mico or Monkey Comb. Click to see big picture (640x447 pixels; 139 KB)
Vallea stipularis produces a spectactular floral display in the Andes of tropical South America.  Here, near the Papallacta Hotsprings of Ecuador, it is known as Cupulicillo.
The fruit of Vallea stipularis are no match for the flowers, but if nothing else are unusual.