DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora- ROSALES ORDER  

 

The Rosales Order is here dominated by two families, namely Rosaceae, the Rose Family and Urticaceae, the Nettles, both families boasting roughly 2600 species.   Moraceae, the Fig Family with about half as many species is also included, and is more widely tropical than the other two.

The Rosaceae in temperate climates gives us many of our most familiar fruit such as apples, plums, peaches, pears and cherries.  Its berries include strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.  And then there are the floral gifts, beginning with the rose itself.  Although not dominantly a tropical family, there are a few genera of interest.

 

Roses themselves are not jungle-bunnies at heart.  Rosa minutifolia, known as the Baja Rose or Small Leaf Rose, mainly hangs out in the drier areas of northern Mexico, but does get down into the more tropical southern parts. Click to see big picture (373x480 pixels; 85 KB)
Amelanchier denticulata is native from Texas to Costa Rica, but in this case is at the Botanical Gardens at UC Berkeley.  It is a weed, with the attractive berries used as forage.  Click to see big picture (605x480 pixels; 126 KB)
And this is the flower of Amelanchier denticulata.  It is known by names such as Southern False Serviceberry, and oddly in Spanish as Membrillo Cimarron. Click to see big picture (623x480 pixels; 88 KB)
A native of the highlands in northwestern South America, Lachemilla orbiculata has been planted more widely as a ground cover.  The local name is Orejuela guesa.
Short brown hairs give Hesperomeles ferruginea a rusty appearance.  It is found in the mountains of tropical South America, and here near the Papallacta Hotsprings of Ecuador it is known as Pujin.
Hesperomeles obtusifolia prefers high elevations, and maybe found in paramos from Costa Rica to Bolivia. Photo from Cayambe-coca Park in Ecuador.
Lady's Mantle, Alchemilla pectinata has a native range from Mexico to Bolivia, but is planted even more widely as a ground cover. Click to see big picture (476x480 pixels; 77 KB)
Prunus brachybotrya is of the same genus as many important fruit trees, but this species has little to offer.  It ranges from southern Mexico to Panama, and appears again in Peru.  Easily ignored, the only local name on offer is Coxoc. Click to see big picture (557x480 pixels; 117 KB)
Holodiscus argenteus at the University of Berkeley.  It is native from Chiapis to Panama. Click to see big picture (640x463 pixels; 122 KB)
Polylepis pauta is of a genus of high altitude trees (up to 4500 meters) often known as Paper-bark Trees or Arbol de Papel.  This species is native to Ecuador and Peru, with photo from the Cayambe_coca Park in the former.
Polylepis incana is another Arbol de Papel, here planted at the Papallacta Hotsprings of Ecuador.  It is within its natural range, however, of the Andes of Peru and Ecuador.   Hybridization between Polylepis species is common and confuses identification.
Polylepis racemosa shows off its fuzzy foliage at the Botanical Gardens of Quito.  It may be found at extreme altitiudes in Peru and Bolivia, and goes by the name of Yagual Peruano.
Very likely the most successful genera of the Rose Family in tropical Americas is Rubus, the wild Blackberries and Raspberries.  The Roseleaf Bramble (Rubus rosifolius) is from tropical and temperate east Asia.  It is now widespread due to edible fruit and leaves from which a herbal tea is prepared.  Here in Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (634x480 pixels; 94 KB)
Rubus boliviensis inhabits the highlands from Ecuador to Bolivia and northern Argentina.  It is here rooted at the botanical gardens in Quito.
And here are the flowers of Rubus boliviensis.
Rubus adenotrichos (or roseorum) is a native of Mesoamerica and also here in Ecuador.  Photo from Papallacta Hotsprings in the mountains east of Quito.
There are some 250 species of Rubus.  The leaves of this one shows that it is Rubus trilobus, found in southern Mexico and Guatemala. Click to see big picture (561x480 pixels; 126 KB)
Known as the Andean Raspberry, Rubus glaucus may be found throughout the neotropics, especially in upland regions. It has become invasive in some areas such as Hawaii.  The fruit are sizeable, but usually need some sweetening to be palatable.  Click to see big picture (594x480 pixels; 115 KB)
Flowers and immature fruit of the Andean Raspberry, at the El Dorador Reserve in northeasternmost Colombia.
Rubus urticifolius in a clearing near Monte Verde, Costa Rica.  This species is found at scattered locations in the tropical Americas.  It is usually referred to simply as Mora Sylvestre (wild blackberry). Click to see big picture (616x480 pixels; 118 KB)
The hair-like thorns of Rubus urticifolius? may remind us that the rose family is closely related to that of the nettles.  Western Panama. Click to see big picture (373x480 pixels; 85 KB)
This pink flowered species is likely Rubus roseus in the mountains east of Quito.  It is found in the highlands from Colombia to Bolivia.
A closer view of the flowers of Rubus roseus?.  The thorny sepals are unusual.

Urticaceae, may be called the Nettle Family, but some authorities will dump over 70 genera here, and by no means all have those fine urtical (stinging) hairs that make them nettles.  Nor are all stinging plants found in this family.  With few exceptions, the flowers are small, numerous and wind pollinated, with minimal photographic potential.  In general, stinging plants are called Ortigas in Spanish, but the term Chichicaste is also found in parts of Mexico and Central America.

 
Urera baccifera is known as Ortiga Brava, and is one of the nettles with a potent sting.  It may be felt in the Caribbean and through much of the Neotropics, preferring areas of high rainfall.  It is locally used for hedges or fences with a punch. Click to see big picture (640x415 pixels; 125 KB)
Another look at the striking Ortiga Brava at the Omaere Ethnobotanical Garden in Puyo, Ecuador.  Oddly, although a nettle, it provides an anti-inflammatory.
The odd bumps on the leaves of the foregoing nettle are common, but here is a (non-nettle) leaf with exaggerated, geometric protrusions.  No idea of the classification. Click to see big picture (640x377 pixels; 80 KB)
From northeastern Colombia, this appears to be Laportea aestuans, although the leaves a rounder than usual.  It is a Woodnettle, likely of African origin, but now widespread in the Neotropics.
Myriocarpa longipes, a giant nettle here in the forests of Central Costa Rica.  You may  have the misfortune to bump into one of these anywhere from southern Mexico to Colombia. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Urera caracascana is known as Flameberry, for obvious reasons.  It is a huge ortiga, which ranges from here in southern Mexico to Venezuela.
A more complete view of the Flameberry tree in the cloud forest of Sierra Maihuatlan in southwestern Mexico.
Another huge nettle, known here in western Panama as Chichicaste Grande awaits the unsuspecting traveler. Click to see big picture (640x453 pixels; 119 KB)
The attractive flowers of Chichicaste Grande show that it is not from the Urticaceae family, but I have no idea how to classify it. Click to see big picture (434x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Boehmeria caudata is widespread in the western hemisphere, and may be the same as B. tomentosa of Asia.  It is known as Ortiga Mansa, but is really a False Nettle, with edible leaves.
With over 60 species and a standing of importance in neotropical forests, the Cecropias had a family of their own until recently. By some twist of genetic interpretation, however, they have now been dumped into the Nettle Family.  I am told that this is Cecropia insignis, protected by fierce Aztec ants.  Nicaragua to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (547x480 pixels; 104 KB)
The female flowers are minute on fingers, which eventually become fruit and food for certain animals and birds.  They are betimes referred to as Snake Fingers.  In Latin America, cecropias are called Guarumo or Yarumo. Click to see big picture (432x480 pixels; 74 KB)
Cecropia obtusifolia ranges though the neotropics from southern Mexico to Ecuador.  Known as Snakewood Tree, it is one of the species being studied for diabetes control.  Click to see big picture (639x480 pixels; 143 KB)
The flowers/fruit of Cecropia obtusifolia are on strings which come packed in reddish sheaths. Click to see big picture (354x480 pixels; 87 KB)
From altitude on Volcan Arenal in Costa Rica, this is Cecropia polyphlebia which is also known as C. angustifolia.  It ranges from here into Panama in the Cordillera. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 138 KB)
Cecropia sciadophylla (approx.) at the Wildsumaco Reserve in Ecuador.  This species is widely observed in tropical South America.
The white of tops of Cecropia telenitida (or telenivea) as seen from a helicopter over the Condor Range on the Peru/Ecuador border.  Known as Yarumo Plateada, it occurs in highlands from Colombia to Peru.
The Buckthorn Family, Rhamnaceae, is of the Rosales Order, but rarely ventures into the neotropics.  Here, however, is the fruit of Rhamnus mucronata, which some would call Frangula mucronata.  Your choice.  It is at home in southern Mexico and Guatemala, but is here at the botanical Gardens at the UC Berkeley. Click to see big picture (597x480 pixels; 90 KB)
Another of this family is Gouania lupuloides, which goes by names such as Chewstick and Whiteroot.  It is a widespread vine in the Neotropics, here growing in southeastern Nicaragua.  It has some use as a flavoring for things such as toothpaste.

Moraceae may be called either the Fig Family or the Mulberry Family.  It is pantropical and noted for compound fruit such as breadfruit.  There are over a thousand species, but most of these are in the Ficus genus, the Figs.

 
On a beach in northwestern Panama, the spiny seed pod of Naucleopsis naga .  These may be found from Honduras to Ecuador. Click to see big picture (640x480 pixels; 127 KB)
A Naucleopsis sp. pod from the underside.  These are called Uñas del Gato (cat's claws), but then so are a variety of other species with thorns or spines.  Another name is Amargo, which means 'bitter'. Click to see big picture (448x480 pixels; 104 KB)
This would be Sorocea affinis, judging by the curled leaf tips.  Here in Nicaragua it is known as Sarsula, but in its range southward to Colombia it is more commonly addressed as Cauchillo, giving it a relationship to rubber trees. Click to see big picture (629x480 pixels; 130 KB)
Here is the fruit of the Panama Rubber Tree, Castilla elastica, locally called Caucho or Palo de Hule.  All of these names refer to the rubber which has traditionally been obtained from its sap, and was used in the balls of the famous precolumbian Mesoamerican Ballgame.  It ranges from Mexico to northern South America.  Like figs, it has compound fruit with the flowers internal. Click to see big picture (640x474 pixels; 88 KB)
And here are the ripened fruit of the Panama Rubber Tree, fittingly in the Canal Zone of Panama.
Ficus tuerckheimii is an example of Strangler Figs, known as Higueron in Latin America. These climb, envelop and finally strangle or kill other trees.  This particular species is also known as Ficus aurea, and occurs through much of the neotropics. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 81 KB)
Another strangler, Ficus cotinifolia in southeast Nicaragua, about half way through its range from southern Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (360x480 pixels; 100 KB)
Meet the complex Ficus citrifolia, sometimes called the Wild Banyan, a reference to the Banyan Fig tree of Asian folklore and religious relevance.  By contrast, F. citrifolia is widespread but neotropical, here putting on a display in Copalita Park of southwest Mexico. Click to see big picture (561x480 pixels; 129 KB)
This appears to be the fruit of Ficus costaricana.  Despite having Costa Rica in its name, it strangles trees throughout Central America. Click to see big picture (609x480 pixels; 118 KB)
Green fruit with red splotches are likely from Ficus pertusa, known as the Baby Strangler or Higuito. It is apparently successful in spite of its small size, ranging from Nicaragua to Peru. Click to see big picture (640x401 pixels; 98 KB)
The many species of Ficus means that there are many types of figs to be found.  Most are round with bumps and/or dots. Many are edible in emergency, but tend to contain ficus wasps, specialized insects which fertilize the internal flowers. Click to see big picture (494x480 pixels; 73 KB)
Oh yes, and the Cannabaceae family is also of the Rosales.  Cannabis sativa and relatives started out from eastern Europe, but now are rumored to be very widespread.  (They are also the source of hemp.) Click to see big picture (447x480 pixels; 60 KB)