DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora:- MELASTOMATACEAE  

 

Melastomataceae-- apparently the name stems from the 'black mouth' of those eating the berries.  This is a heavy weight in the Neotropics, which harbors roughly two thirds of the 200 genera and 4500 species described to date.  The plants themselves are referred to as Melastomes, but there seems to be no widely used common name for the family itself.  With some reservations, the family is easily to recognize, with paired leaves sporting between three and seven longitudinal veins.  Identifying the genus and species with any certainty, however, may be beyond the details of a random photo.

The University of Florida Herbarium maintains a melastome clearing house with photos of many species at www.flmnh.ufl.edu/melastomes/

Much of the variation between species may be seen in the Melastome leaves.  As a measure of the diversity of the family in some areas, this photo shows the leaves plucked from plants along 50 meters of trail in the Cordillera de Condor on the Ecuador/Peru border. Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 79 KB)
With its large leaves and unusual distribution of anthers, this would be Blakea grandiflora.  It is supposed to be endemic to Costa Rica, but here has strayed into southeastern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (640x429 pixels; 85 KB)
A closer look at the amazing flower of Blakea grandiflora.  The genus is largely recognized by having six petals, but this is not definitive, as there are others such as the Topobea genus that look very similar. Click to see big picture (489x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Blakea litoralis may be found in Costa Rica and Panama.  Despite its 'litoralis' name, it is not confined to coastlines. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 81 KB)
The fruit of Blakea tuberculata demonstrate another side of the genus. Click to see big picture (513x480 pixels; 119 KB)
The fruit of Blakea bracteata looks quite different.  It is a liana-like species of the northern Neotropics, here at Wildsumaco Reserve, Ecuador.
An unidentified six-petal melastome from the Toro Valley of Costa Rica.  With hooded buds, this will be something out of the Conostegia genus. Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 102 KB)
In garden circles it goes by names such as Princess Flower and Glory Bush.  Elsewhere  Tibouchina urvilleana is cursed as an invasive, blamed upon its native Brazil.  In Latin America, it is widely planted under a variety of names, including Magrande and Nazareno. Click to see big picture (512x480 pixels; 86 KB)
An unusual red flower melastome hangs out in the high Andes of Colombia and Ecuador.  Introducing Tibouchina grossa from Colombia's Volcan Ruiz.  Also known as Tibouchina reticulata. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 68 KB)
Again from Colombia, this is Tibouchina longifolia, which ranges from southern Mexico to Bolivia. Betimes it is called the Longleaf Glorybush, and like the original glorybush it can be invasive.  In Latin America, Lengua del Gato (cat's tongue) is used due to the hairs on the leaves, but that term is applied to several species. Click to see big picture (596x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Tibouchina rufipilis seem to be confined to southern Mexico, in this case high in the Sierra Maihuatlan.
Tibouchina lepidota is a popular garden bush, due mainly to the wide range of flower color.  For this it is known as Siete Cueros (seven skins). Click to see big picture (491x480 pixels; 97 KB)
And this is what a Siete Cueros bush looks like with flowers from white to red.  It is endemic to here in Colombia, but planted more widely. Click to see big picture (592x480 pixels; 162 KB)
Tibouchina grandifolia is another striking Brazilian, that has been widely planted, and with reason.  This example in western Panama is likely a garden escapee.  The species is known as Silverleaved Princess Flower in garden talk, and in latin, T. heteromalla seems to be taking over. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 107 KB)
Back to Colombia, for a photo of Tibouchina mollis in the botanical gardens in Bogota.  The flowers also come in blue, and are called Mayos.  Colombia shares this species with Ecuador. Click to see big picture (340x480 pixels; 76 KB)
Unidentified, quite possibly a Tibouchina, with navy blue anthers.  From the Bajo Mono area of western Panama. Click to see big picture (437x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Although Tococa guianensis is named for Guiana, it ranges from Costa Rica to Brazil.  Those bulbs (domatia) at base of the leaves house aztec ants, which provide the plant with protection in return for a sugary secretion.  The local name is Caujero. Click to see big picture (549x480 pixels; 107 KB)
Another species which provides domatia for ants is Tococa spadiciflora, which seems largely confined to Colombia and northernmost Ecuador. Click to see big picture (640x469 pixels; 126 KB)
It is for a good reason that Clidemia hirta is known as Koster's Curse.  Once outside its native Neotropics, it has become very invasive in other tropical settings, including Fiji, Hawaii and Australia.  Oddly, its fruit is edible by humans, but poisonous to goats.  Soapbush is a less condemning name, but even 'hirta' translates as weed. Click to see big picture (640x382 pixels; 75 KB)
On the other hand, Clidemia dentata is more welcome due to its edible berries, and is now widespread in the Neotropics.   Photo from Omaere Ethnobotanical Garden, Puyo, Ecuador.
A melastome with light brown fuzz.  Conostegia xalapensis is at home from southern Mexico to Colombia, and out into the Caribbean.  One local name is Canallito, a reference to the cinnamon color, although the flowers can also be pinkish. Click to see big picture (533x480 pixels; 86 KB)
With a rosier hue, this seems to be Conostegia subcrustulata, a feature of forests from Nicaragua to Ecuador.  Click to see big picture (640x456 pixels; 114 KB)
Conostegia rufescens can be identified by triple leaflets that erupt at the base of leaf petioles, sort of super-stipules.  It occurs from Costa Rica to Ecuador, plus the Caribbean, and for some reason has taken on the name of Luquillo Mountain Snailwood , a reference to Puerto Rico. Click to see big picture (640x430 pixels; 132 KB)
An aquatic melastome, in fact it is denoted Nepsera aquatica.  Under names such as Altea, it is found in wet ground through much of the Neotropics. Click to see big picture (533x480 pixels; 95 KB)
From Volcan Baru in western Panama, this is likely Monochaetum vulcanicum.  This is mainly recorded from the volcanoes and highlands of Costa Rica and Panama, where it is known as Nochebuena. Click to see big picture (567x480 pixels; 120 KB)
Monocheatum humboldtianum seems confined to northeastern Colombia and adjacent Venezuela.  In garden circles it is know as the Pink Princess.
Another view of thed Pink Princess, which has vine-like tendencies.  From the Santa Marta Range of northeastern Colombia.
Approximately Monochaetum floribundum, a common and variable species in Mesoamerica. Click to see big picture (640x384 pixels; 102 KB)
From above the town of Ulba in Ecuador, this appears to be Monochaetum lineatum, native to the mountains from Colombia to Peru.
Monochaetum tenellum (or tenellium) is a rare species from Guatemala, here growing at the botanical gardens of the University of California, Berkeley.  Click to see big picture (640x467 pixels; 134 KB)
Arthrorstemma ciliatum is a vine-like melastome encountered in the Caribbean and much of the western Neotropics.  It has entered garden circles under the name of Pink Fringe, and is invasive in Hawaii.  Here at home in northern Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (292x480 pixels; 56 KB)
This is probably Centradenia inaequilateralis, which ranges from southern Mexico to Panama.  Some odd things are being sold under that name from garden sources, however. Click to see big picture (345x480 pixels; 82 KB)
Centrodenia floribunda is also found in Central America, mainly in Guatemala and El Salvador.  This one is in a private garden in San Francisco, and looks a whole lot like the next photo, except for the blue anthers.  In garden circles it is known as Spanish Shawl, and it has an odd leaf for a melastome.
Heterocentron floribundum is known as Trailing Princess and usually hangs out in NIcaragua and Costa Rica, but is here adorning the botanical gardens in San Francisco. Click to see big picture (424x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Dissotis rotundifolia, alias Heterotis rotundifola, is an African which has gone pantropical, mainly in widespread use as a ground cover.  In English it goes by names such as PInk Lady and Spanish Shawl.  Latin American names seem to relate it to tibouchina, which is misleading.  The leaves are medicinal, used for diarrhea and various other ailments. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 131 KB)
Miconia impetiolaris also sports large leaves and small flowers.  It may be found through much of the Neotropics, and is known as Mule Ears Miconia in English and by Camasey de Costilla locally. Click to see big picture (592x480 pixels; 111 KB)
Another photo of Miconia impetiolaris, showing both the fruit, and the unusual leaf base which marks this species. Click to see big picture (375x480 pixels; 100 KB)
A red-haired melastome with a three-nerve leaf.  Miconia lacera crops up through much of the Neotropics, here in the Canal Zone of Panama. Click to see big picture (640x438 pixels; 124 KB)
There are photos posted similar to this under Leandra longicoma, but this lovely pink-fur specimen from high in the mountains between Peru and Ecuador, will likely have to remain unidentified. Click to see big picture (398x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Meriania nobilis goes by the name of Amarrabollis (or Amarroboyo) in its restricted range in the mountains of Colombia and Venezuela.  Click to see big picture (550x480 pixels; 110 KB)
A closer look at the impressive flowers of Meriania nobils, courtesy of the botanical gardens in Bogota. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 108 KB)
Meriania phlomoides is a more retiring species, noted mainly for its pentagonal seeds.  It may be found from Costa Rica to Colombia, here in the former. Meriania phlomoides
Meriania speciosa shares the same common names as the similar M. Nobilis.  It has been reported from Colombia and Ecuador, and is here at the Bogota gardens.
Brachyotum ledifolium is a child of the high paramos, from Colombia to Peru, flaunting the indigenous name Pucachaglla.  This one, however, is rooted near sea level in the botanical gardens of UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (401x480 pixels; 85 KB)
We catch up with a wild Brachyotum ledifolium while approaching Chimborazo Mountain, Ecuadors highest peak.
Here is a strange one, from high on the Ecuador-Peru border.  A 'purple wonder' with at least nine veins on a colored, heart-shaped underleaf. Click to see big picture (504x480 pixels; 110 KB)
The very hairy flowers of the 'purple wonder'. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 132 KB)
The Cordillera del Condor seems to be a center of diversity of unusual melastomes.  Here is one with a red stem, furry leaves and a white fur raceme. Click to see big picture (640x383 pixels; 119 KB)
Another view of the furry melastome, showing the underleaf veining.  Note that the veins do not converge to the leaf base. Click to see big picture (501x480 pixels; 109 KB)
Again from high in the Condor Range on the Ecuador-Peru border, this appears to be Miconia jahnii, found at elevation from here to western Venezuela. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 141 KB)
Here we have a red-eye species with a mixture of four and five petal flowers, and a dark, hairy calyx. Click to see big picture (558x480 pixels; 130 KB)
From Volcan Baru in western Panama, this multi-color floration appears to be courtesy of Leandra subseriata, native to the highlands from Mexico to Peru. Click to see big picture (640x432 pixels; 139 KB)
At the Botanical Gardens in Bogota we find a professional identification of Leandra subseriata, complete with fruit.  It goes by the name of Niguito.
A sprawling, unidentified species from the mountains of central Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (640x478 pixels; 152 KB)
A thick and common bush in the subalpine zone from Colombia to western Bolivia, may I introduce Graffenrieda emarginata, impeding movement at the 3000 meter elevation in the Condor Range.
From near Manizales in the Coffee Region of Colombia, introducing Miconia theaezans, which is fairly widespread in the highlands of the Neotropics. Click to see big picture (579x480 pixels; 98 KB)
Medinilla speciosa is known as the Showy Medinilla, and is mainly encountered in tropical gardens, in this case the botanical garden in Bogota.
Axinaea macrophylla ranges from western Venezuala to northern Peru, and tends to be known as Tuno Rosa.  Botanical Gardens, Bogota.
Chaetolepis alpina hardly looks like a melastome. It is confined to the mountains of northeastern Colombia, in this case Cerro Kennedy of the Santa Marta Range.
Chaetolepis cufodontisii is the central american member of this paramo genus, here high on Cerro Muerto of Costa Rica.
When it comes to oddball members of this family, may I present Triolena pluvialis. This unusual herb is mainly found in Ecuador, both in the Amazon Basin and adjacent uplands.  Photo from the Wildsumaco Reserve.
A closer look at the fruiting stem of Triolena pluvialis.  Flowers are not present.