DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora:- MYRTLES & GERANIUMS  

 

Myrtaceae, the Myrtle Family, is a major on the world stage, with very roughly 5600 species.  Cloves, guava and eucalyptus are among its better known offerings.  In Central America it is best known for species with edible fruit and for flowers with prominent displays of stamens.  The Combretaceae from the same order is also included here.

Myrtaceae is the flag bearer for the Myrtales botanical order, which is closely related to the Geraniales, the geraniums.  A few examples from this latter group are appended.

 

The Psidium or guava genus has about a hundred species, but the Common Guava or Guayaba is P. guajava, with at least 18 other scientific designations.  Used as food and medicine it is now harvested across the tropics, from a neotropical origin. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 110 KB)
The flower of Psidium guajava is typical of the family, and the smooth bark is also common.  This bark and roots have been used against dysentery and intestinal parasites.  Click to see big picture (640x411 pixels; 88 KB)
Psidium cattleianum is known as the Strawberry Guava, which started its career in the southern aspects of the Neotropics.  It is now widely planted and widely a problem, making it onto the list of the world's 100 most invasive species.  It is also called the Peruvian Guava, or Guayabo Peruviano in Latin America. Click to see big picture (640x459 pixels; 100 KB)
Psidium friedrichsthalianum makes up for its tongue-twisting latin handle by having the street name of Cas.  More acid than the common guava, it tends to wind up in jams, or drinks such as the popular 'fresco de cas'.  Found throughout Central America, it goes by several other local names, usually involving 'guayabo de ----'.  Click to see big picture (640x418 pixels; 93 KB)
The PIneapple Guava looks a bit different, and has fallen into a different genus.  Acca sellowiana has aromatic and tasty fruit, and answers to several names such as Guavasteen and Feijoa Click to see big picture (640x399 pixels; 110 KB)
The flowers of Acca sellowiana are also worthy of note, and the petals are edible.  With a native range from southern Brazil into Argentina, it has some frost tolerance, and has hence been more widely planted than most fruit called guavas.  Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 117 KB)
Psidium caudatum, alias Calycolpus moritzianus is a child of the mountains from Venezuela to Ecuador.  Here in the cordillera of Colombia it is the Guayaba sabanera. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 86 KB)
This is known as the Surinam Cherry, and seems to have originated on the eastern coast of South America. Eugenia uniflora has now been widely planted in the Neotropics, however, under names such as Pitanga.  The fruit will turn black when ripe and used for jams, jellies and drinks.  Click to see big picture (640x410 pixels; 84 KB)
Eugenia stipitata or Araza is amazonian by origin, and although more widely harvested, it is still known as the Guayaba Amazonica.  Oddly, the seeds are planted on rotting wood to germinate.  The juice is acid, and used mainly for jams. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 102 KB)
Ugni myricoides is known as the Black Chilean Guava, although it is other members of the genus which hang out in Chile.  Another of its 31 latin names is Myrtus roraimensis, which pins it more properly to southern Venezuela.   This plant, however, is fruiting at the botanical gardens at the University of Berkeley. Click to see big picture (562x480 pixels; 103 KB)
We catch up with the flower of Ugni myricoides in a high mountain paramo in central Costa Rica.  It is native to the mountains from here into northern South America. Click to see big picture (404x480 pixels; 62 KB)
At Monte Verde reserve, Costa Rica, I was informed that this is the bark of Myrcianthes rhopaloides, the Arrayan Negro, which ranges from here to Peru.    (Other species of the Myrtle Family with peeling bark are also called Arrayan in Chile-Argentina).  Click to see big picture (305x480 pixels; 83 KB)
Myrciantes rhopalsides in the botanical gardens of Bogota, but it looks a lot like common Mirto. Click to see big picture (389x480 pixels; 70 KB)
But the fruit of Arrayan Negro is different, for one thing it turns black.  This is from the same garden at another season.
Mirto, Myrtus communis has a long history in southern Europe and northern Africa.  It has fragrant oil which seems effective against sinus infections, and as a symbol of Aphrodite was widely employed in rituals.  It now appears in the warmer parts of planet earth, often referred to as the True Myrtle. Click to see big picture (472x480 pixels; 94 KB)

The Combretaceae is of family of roughly 600 species found mainly in tropical locations around the world.  It is perhaps best known for its mangrove trees (mangle in Spanish).
 
Conocarpus erectus may be found along many neotropical coasts, not to mention those of West Africa and Hawaii.  It is mainly known for these unusual fruit, giving names such as Buttonwood and Button Mangrove in English and Mangle boton in Spanish.  It is also known for some reason as Mangle Torcido (twisted mangrove). buton mangrove
These are the fruit which have given Terminalia catappa the name of Sea Almond or Almendro del Mar.  They yield a dye, or can be roasted and eaten.  It is a pantropical coastal species from southeast Asia. sea almond
Terminalia catappa here shows an interesting strategy on the coast of Panama.  The main trunk lies prostrate and lets the branches turn into trees.  Bark and leaves are used for tanning, and the strong, elastic wood is sought for construction.  Terminalia cattapa
Combretum fruticosum is a liana found through much of the Neotropics. Its bright flowers have earned it the name of Orange Flame Vine in English, and Flor de Fuego in Spanish.  The photo also shows the immature fruit. flor de fuego
Combretum fruticosum is also known as C. punctatum.  The young flowers are yellow, as displayed here near the town of Minca in northeastern Colombia.


The Geraniales Order is closely related to the Myrtales.  It is dominated by the 800 species strong Geraniaceae or Geranium Family, of which over half are of the Geranium genus.  Most of these shun the tropics geographically, the few found here avoiding it by seeking elevation.

 
From the alpine zone of Volcan Baru in western Panama, this is likely Geranium guatemalense, which is found in the high paramos from here to Mexico. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 133 KB)
Geranium goldmanii according  to the botanical gardens at the University of California, Berkeley.   The species is native to Chiapis and Guatemala, but this flower is unusually red. Click to see big picture (430x480 pixels; 80 KB)
A low but lovely geranium from Cortez Pass, Mexico. Click to see big picture (412x480 pixels; 72 KB)
Pelargonium odoratissimum started out in South Africa, but is now planted around the tropics under names such as Apple-scented Geranium.  It is a variable species, appreciated mainly for its sweet smell.