DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL MESOAMERICA

 
     
  Flora:  VARIOUS BOTANICAL ORDERS  

 

This page collects photos from several botanical Orders and Families for which there is limited material, and which did not fit well into other pages.  These are the 'left-overs'.

Starting with the Brassicales Order , which is named for the large Mustard Family, Brassicaceae.  It is famous for both food plants and noxious weeds, but not really at home in the tropics.  The Cleomaceae or Beeplant Family, however, do have some species willing to fight it out in the Neotropics.  That family has recently be cleaved off of the Capper Family and is in danger of being swallowed by the Mustards.  I have not had much luck in identification.

 

Although the mustards aren't jungle bunnies at heart, the super-weed Raphanus raphanistrum does make an appearance.  An invasive Eurasian, it is widely known as Wild Radish, and in Latin America as Rabano Silvestre or Rabaniza. Click to see big picture (388x480 pixels; 77 KB)
On a high mountain paramo in Colombia, an unidentifed species of the Mustard family creates its flowers and pods.
An similarly unidentified Cleome from Panama.  There are at least a half dozen species hiding out there. Click to see big picture (556x480 pixels; 99 KB)
This is from Nicaragua, with most unusual strings radiating from the leaves.  Cleome? Click to see big picture (405x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Cleome anomala is native to the highlands of Colombia and Ecuador, here just east of Quito.  It goes by names such as Garcita or the more indigenous Chunkayuyu. Click to see big picture (520x480 pixels; 109 KB)
A lovely purple Cleome from near Leticia in the Colombian lowlands.  The large leaves are another plant behind. cleome
Cleome gynandra likely originated in Africa or Asia, but seems to have settled in the drier parts of Mesoamerica and the Caribbean early.  The leaves of Spiderwisp provide a nutrative food in some regions.. spiderwisp
A Crucifixion Thorn or Allthorn is caught flowering.  This spiny wonder is native to the southwestern U.S. and Mexico, where it is known as the Corona de CristoKoeberlinia spinosa may be in the Caper Family, although some would prefer it to be kicked out to form a one-species family of its own. Click to see big picture (338x480 pixels; 80 KB)
It seems strange that Caricaceae, the Papaya Family, should be filed under the Brassicales.  The Papaya itself is said to have been first cultivated in Mexico, and is sometimes referred to as Pawpaw. Click to see big picture (524x480 pixels; 91 KB)
Papaya produces separate male and female flowers.  The males are abundant, and one might look at them as either more artistic-- or simply twisted. Click to see big picture (525x480 pixels; 79 KB)
The female flowers stay further separated and close to the stem, after all, they will need support for the large fruit. Click to see big picture (583x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Vasconcellea pubescens is known as the Mountain Papaya in English and Papalluela locally.  It is native to the highlands from Costa Rica to Ecuador.  Botanical Gardens of Bogota.


The Milkwort Family, Polygalaceae, is actually a fugitive from the Fabales, the botanical order completely dominated by the pea family.  In fact the flowers look a bit like those of lupines.  It once had an Order of its own, however, and can still muster about a thousand species.

 
From the upper levels of Volcan Baru in western Panama, this is likely Monnina saprogena, which is found in the mountains of Costa Rica and Panama. Click to see big picture (350x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Monnina xalapensis is native from southern Mexico to Panama, but is here representing its genus at the botanical gardens at UC Berkeley.  Click to see big picture (640x478 pixels; 95 KB)
Monnina aestuans has mainly been reported from Colombia, here in the El Dorado Reserve in the northeast of that country.
The mountains of northern Ecuador host several species of Monnina, known as Azulinas.  The fruit of this one above Papallacta Hotsprings are said to be used to make a shampoo.
In the Santa Marta mountains of northeastern Colombia we find this dainty and slim species of Monnina.
An unidentified Monnina with sky-blue flowers, from the Condor Range on the Ecuador-Peru border. Click to see big picture (510x480 pixels; 96 KB)
Securidaca diversifolia (approx.) in flooded lowlands of Colombia.  Native to the Neotropics, this has been planted more widely under the name of Easter Flower. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 111 KB)

The Order Zygophyllales is named for the Caltrop Family, Zygophyllaceae, with roughly 250 species.  For the most part we are talking weeds.
 
Low and sprawling in southern Mexico, this appears to be Kallstroemia rosei, one of the Caltrop species which is mainly found in this very region.  Click to see big picture (640x448 pixels; 123 KB)
A closer look at Kallstroemia rosei, handsome for a lowly weed. The local name is Verdolaguilla, a reference to purslane. Click to see big picture (538x480 pixels; 86 KB)
But the supreme Caltrop and cursed weed is the Puncture vine, Tribulus terrestris.  We blame this one on Europe, but it has now spread across the warmer parts of planet earth.  It is also sold as a testosterone booster, but tests have not supported this.   In Mesoamerica it has names such as Cadillo, Espignon and Abrojo.  Caltrop seeds can puncture sandals and bicycle tires. Click to see big picture (640x462 pixels; 171 KB)
Tribulus cistoides is a less recognized puncture vine, which is also causing problems, especially in the Pacific Islands.  It has accumulated  names such as False Puncture Vine and Jamaican Fever Plant. Click to see big picture (469x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Viscainoa geniculata, a product of northwestern and central Mexico.  On display are both the flowers and new pods. Click to see big picture (640x409 pixels; 96 KB)
The fruit and flowers of Cissus sp. on Basimentos Island in northwest Panama.  This comes from the Vitae, the grape family, which has been given the Vi tales order its name.  Their genes seem to have proven difficult to pigeon-hole.  Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 122 KB)

The Saxifragales Order is named for the Saxifrage Family, but like it, there are few species willing to enter the war that defines the tropical biota.  A few creep onto the radar, however, from the drier regions.

 
Kalanchoe pinnata, the Airplant,  got a ride on garden fashions and is now common in the Neotropics, although native to Madagascar.  The Spanish name is a direct translation, Hoja del Aire.   It is both poisonous and medicinal, a common combination. Click to see big picture (640x476 pixels; 136 KB)
Echeveria multicaulis may be found from Mexico to Honduras, and in gardens well beyond.  It is sold as Copper Leaf or Copper Rose, as the leaves turn that color when it gets cold. Click to see big picture (455x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Echeveria elegans is native to the semiarid regions of Mexico, and is known in garden circles as the Mexican Snowball.  Photo from Lotusland, California.
Echeveria agavoides is another species from central Mexico.  This form, from a private garden in San Francisco, is the Red Edge Agave, likely a cultivar.
Pachyphytum coeruleum at UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens.  Again from Mexico, but not much information on this species.
Echeveria and Sedum genera tend to be called Siemprevivas in Latin America, although that name is borrowed from another genus.  This one is Sedum torulosum, a hit in garden circles due to it thick stem, and giving it the name of Tree Sedum.  In this case the garden is at the University of Berkeley, an estranged child of southern Mexico. Click to see big picture (558x480 pixels; 109 KB)
Sedum hintonii, at home in Oaxaca, Mexico.  It also has been adopted into garden duty. Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 104 KB)
Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is common in the eastern U.S., and occurs as a member of the cloud forests in the mesoamerican mountains, where it is called Liquidambar Americano.  Once appreciated for its rosin, it is now widely planted as an ornamental, for its flowers and these strange fruit.  Altingiaceae Family at present. Click to see big picture (610x480 pixels; 108 KB)

The Gunneraceae Family comprises about twenty species, and shares its Order, Gunnerales, with just one other family.  Most species are the familiar monstrosities with giant leaves, such as Gunnera insignis, which is native from Nicaragua to Panama.
Click to see big picture (507x480 pixels; 127 KB)
Gunnera are referred to as Giant Rhubarb or Poor Man's Parasol in English, and in parallel as Ruibarbo Gigante and Sombrilla del Pobres in Spanish.  This is G. insignis again.  Gunnera have been planted in large, wet gardens as much for their strange floral spike as for the huge leaves. Click to see big picture (640x450 pixels; 143 KB)
Here is a closer look at the colorful fruiting branches of Gunnera. Click to see big picture (640x397 pixels; 86 KB)
From high in the Parque los Nevados in Colombia, this would be Gunnera brephogea.  They need abundant water, and this specimen is suffering from a temporary drought.  The species is reported from the Andes from here to Bolivia. Click to see big picture (640x450 pixels; 144 KB)
A more healthy version of Gunnera brephogea near a stream on the east side of the Ecuadorian Andes.
Gunnera tayrona at its type locality, on the Cuchillo de San Lorenzo of the Santa Marta Mountains, northeastern Colombia.   It has a restricted range.
Gunnera killipiana in the Botanic Gardens at UC Berkeley.  This appears to be the same as Gunnera mexicana, which ranges from south Mexico to Nicaragua. Click to see big picture (541x480 pixels; 147 KB)


The Dilleniaceae Family can muster a few hundred species, but at time of writing has not been fitted into any Botanical Order.  This is Davilla nitida, a liana which is found through much of the Neotropics.  Its fruit is likely its most presentable feature.  Local names include Chaparro and Bejuco de Agua (it contains drinkable water).

Click to see big picture (498x480 pixels; 113 KB)
Davilla kunthii is also found scattered through the Neotropics.  It is known as the Sandpaper Vine in English, but here in Panama as the Bejuco de Fuego (flame vine) as strong contact with the bark can produce intense pain. Click to see big picture (640x455 pixels; 130 KB)
And these are the seed pods of Davilla kunthii.  It is classed as a vine or a liana, and the bark as well as being caustic, can be use as a disinfectant.

The botanical Order Ranunculales is named for the Buttercup Family, but those delicate species have shown little interest in tropical jungles.  The Poppy Family, Papaveraceae, are more at home here however.  With roughly 770 species, it is famous for both opiates and garden flowers, not to mention weeds.  Amapola is poppy in Spanish.
  

 
Its a poppy tree.  Bocconia frutescens  is native to the mountain heights, from Mexico to Peru.  In English it is known as Tree Celadine or Parrotweed.  The common name in Latin America is Guacamaya, which keeps to the parrot theme and means macaw.  Here is a tree and the pods. Click to see big picture (640x464 pixels; 160 KB)
The seeds of Parrotweed, after the pods drop off.  These can lay dormant in the soil for many years waiting for a forest opening, making Bocconia frutescens a successful 'gap specialist'. Click to see big picture (569x480 pixels; 125 KB)
Another Tree Poppy is Bocconia arborea, which ranges from southern Mexico to Costa Rica.  The somewhat redder seed pods gives it the local name of Llora Sangre (cries tears of blood). Click to see big picture (640x452 pixels; 150 KB)
Argemone mexicana is the Mexican Prickly Poppy, and in its native Mexico is known as Chicalote.  It is now a widespread weed.  The plant is poisonous, but used as a sedative, and it is one of the species referred to as Cardosanto. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Most specimens of the Mexican Prickly Poppy have blue tinged leaves, such as this example from high in the Sierra Maihuatlan.
There are several white prickly poppies, but here in southern Mexico this is likely the Crested Prickly Poppy, Argemone platyceras.  It may be found from here north to central U.S. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 111 KB)
Of more fierce appearance and rooted in central Mexico, this appears to be Argemone squarosa, the Hedgehog Prickly Poppy, but no guarantees. Click to see big picture (623x480 pixels; 86 KB)
An unidentified prickly poppy and its well armed pod in the city of Puebla.  Click to see big picture (640x403 pixels; 92 KB)
Enough with the prickles.  This is Hunnemannia fumariifolia, the Mexican Tulip Poppy.  It is native to the Mexican highlands, but has been pressed into service in temperate and semi-tropical gardens, in this case those of San Diego. Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 79 KB)
From the Barberry Family, Berberidaceae, these are the fruit of the Mexican Barberry, Berberis gracilis.  The name used in Mexico is Palo Amarillo, which focuses on the species yellow flowers.  The berries are edible, but sour. Click to see big picture (506x480 pixels; 110 KB)
From the Ranunculaceae itself, introducing the Mexican Columbine, Aquilegia Skinneri.  Although native to central Mexico, it has been planted widely in gardens.  These, in fact, are thriving under the soggy skies of Vancouver at the UBC botanical gardens. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 113 KB)
In a confusion of flowers and seeds, Clematis dioica climbs through a bush in Central Costa Rica.   This may be encountered over much of the Neotropics, especially the northern parts.  Cabellos de Angel (angel hair) is one popular term, along with Barba de Chivo (goat's beard), a name it shares with several unrelated species. clematis
A buttercup.  At 4000 meters elevation on the paramo of Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain, this is likely Ranunculus praemorsus. It is a variable species, found on mountains of both Central and South America.

The Santalales Order, is most closely associated with Mistletoes, and its flag-bearer in the tropics of Mesoamerica is the Loranthaceae, a family of roughly a thousand species of mainly woody hemiparasites, many with attractive flowers.
 
 
Judging by the asymmetric leaves, this mexican parasite is likely Psittacanthus rhynchanthus, which infects trees from here to Venezuela. Click to see big picture (640x378 pixels; 115 KB)
Psittacanthus cucullaris is dominantly a child of the Amazon basin, and may be found from here in Colombia to Bolivia.  Also known as Phrygilanthus falcatus, Click to see big picture (481x480 pixels; 94 KB)
Psittacanthus zonatus may be found above the western border of the Amazon Basin in Ecuador and Peru.  Here it is infecting high trees on the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador.
Fruit of Psittacanthus species are berries, eaten by birds.  After passing through the birds, the seeds are sticky and some cling to tree branches, spreading the parasites. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 135 KB)
Gaiadendron punctatum infects trees in the wet mountains from Nicaragua to Bolivia. Click to see big picture (640x426 pixels; 138 KB)
Here above Papallacacta Hotsprings in the Andes of Ecuador, it is known as Ichul.
In the same area, there is a tree completely infested with Gaiadendron punctatum parasite, likely close to dying of the affliction. 
The fruit of Gaiadendron punctatum is eaten by humans, as well as birds.  It is said to taste a bit like mango. Click to see big picture (368x480 pixels; 83 KB)
From high in the Cordillera Condor, this lovely parasite appears to be Aetanthus nodosus, which is native to the paramos from Venezuela to Peru. Click to see big picture (640x396 pixels; 115 KB)
And here it is again in the Cayambe-coco Park of the Ecuadorian Andes, where it is known as Matapalo
The fruit of Aetanthus nodosus is also colorful.  From Papallacta Pass east of Quito.

The Proteales Order, is little more than the roughly 1600 species lodged in the Proteaceae, often referred to as the Macadamia Nut Family.   This contains a wide variety of plants, some quite unusual.
 
 
Grevillea banksii is an Aussie, native to Queensland.  Under names such as Red Silky Oak, it and its cultivars have been spread to many parts of the tropics.  Here in the highlands of Colombia. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 126 KB)
Panopsis suaveolens is a tree known as Yolombo in its range from Panama to Ecuador and Peru.  The fruit is described as a tough skin surrounding a large seed, and best left to rodents. Click to see big picture (490x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Again in Colombia, this is the Black-beard Sugarbush from southeast Africa.  Protea lepidocarpodendron in formal circles.  These showy flowers have been its passport to foreign tropical gardens. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 93 KB)