DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL CENTRAL AMERICA

 
     
  Flora- VERBENAS AND ASSOCIATES  

 

In truth, this page presents what is left in the Lamiales Order, after the Acanthus, Bignonia, Gesneriad and Mint families have each been given their separate pages.  In addition to Verbenaceae, it includes the Olive Family (Oleaceae), the Plantain Family (Plantaginaceae) and what is left of the Figwort Family.

Verbenaceae, the Verbenas, has recently lost many of its genera to genetic cleansing, and is now down to 35 genera and roughly 1200 species.  These are dominantly tropical, and most have small flowers in clusters or racemes.

 

There are some 150 species in the Lantana genus.  L. camara varies in floral color, and can change those colors with age.  It is weedy and toxic, but wildly popular in gardens, so its name get pinned on most lantanas.  Local handles include Cinco Negritos and Cuasquito.  It has made the list of the world's hundred most invasive plants. Click to see big picture (620x480 pixels; 103 KB)
The fruit of Lantana camara is a blue berry.  The species can be blamed on the American tropics, but is now gracing gardens and causing problems around the world. Click to see big picture (462x480 pixels; 80 KB)
Red Lantana is likely the product of horticultural tweeking, but seems to have escaped here near Bajo Mono in Panama. Click to see big picture (473x480 pixels; 64 KB)
Lantana trifolia is another neotropical species which has long leaves in whorls of three.  Here in central Costa Rica. Click to see big picture (550x480 pixels; 103 KB)
Lantana urticifolia may be found from Mexico and the Caribbean to here in central Ecuador.
From the Wildsumaco Reserve in central Ecuador, this is either an unusual Lantana, or something entirely different.
Lantana urticoides, according to a garden of medicinal plants in Mexico.  It was once used for both stomach ailments and wounds, and is native to both Mexico and the southern U.S. Click to see big picture (640x442 pixels; 96 KB)
Also from a garden in Mexico, this appears to be Lippia graveolens, known as Mexican Oregano.  It is used as a culinary herb in its range from the southern U.S. to Panama, and in folk medicine is employed against gastrointestinal infections. Click to see big picture (628x480 pixels; 67 KB)
Lippia myriocephala likely.  This bush has a native range from southern Mexico to Panama, and here in Costa Rica it is known as Caraigre. Click to see big picture (602x480 pixels; 95 KB)
Lippia alba is neotropical, but has now been planted more widely.  It is partly cultivated for its flowers and aroma, but is also used as a condiment and a migraine aid.  Bushy Lippia is an English term, and for some reason it is called Hierba Negra in Latin America. Click to see big picture (629x480 pixels; 92 KB)
Known as the Aztec Sweet Herb, Hierba Dulce or Honeyherb, Phyla dulcis leaves have been used as a natural sweetener since prehistoric times.  (Many prefer its older designation, Lippia dulcis.)  It ranges from Mexico and the Caribbean to Panama, and has claims to medicinal value. Click to see big picture (640x465 pixels; 123 KB)
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, has gone pantropical from its Caribbean origin, spread by gardens and a weedy, invasive nature.  It goes by a variety of names, including Snakeweed, Jamaica Vervain and Blue Porterweed. Click to see big picture (314x480 pixels; 43 KB)
Stachytarpheta cayennensis (or urticifolia) was neotropical, but is now a pantropical weed.  It is known by several names, Cayenne Snakeweed being popular in English, and Piche de Gato used informally here in central Ecuador.
A child of the northern Neotropics, Stachytarpheta mutabilis is called Pink Snakeweed and Coral Porterweed.  Here found near Volcancito in western Panama. Click to see big picture (303x480 pixels; 60 KB)
Aloysia gratissima was once known as Lippia ligustrina.  With names such as Whitebrush or Beebrush, it may be found from the southern U.S. to the Amazon and is used in traditional medicine for headache and depression. Click to see big picture (377x480 pixels; 70 KB)
A pantropical garden favorite which calls Central America and the Caribbean home, Duranta repens travels under many names, with Skyflower and Golden Dewdrops being among the most common in English.  At home, it goes by Miguelito or Cuentas de Oro.  As some indication of its reach, this photo is from Borneo. Click to see big picture (640x417 pixels; 75 KB)
The skyflower's dowdy cousin, Duranta mutisii has garnered names such as Espino Garbanzo or Espino Crucete in its mountain habit from Colombia to Peru.  Click to see big picture (513x480 pixels; 108 KB)
The fruit of Duranta mutisii show why it is named for garbanzo beans.  These photos are from the botanical gardens in Bogota. Click to see big picture (640x403 pixels; 117 KB)
Aegiphila ferruginea is a 'verbena tree' known as Pusupato, endemic to the mountains of Ecuador. Botanical Gardens of Quito.
Fruit of the Pusupato Tree (Aegiphila ferruginea)
Citharexylum donnell-smithii is a long name for this tree, native to Mesoamerica.  It is cherished mainly for these strings of orange fruit, but they turn black on maturity. Click to see big picture (640x424 pixels; 129 KB)
Citharexylum caudatum on Bastimentos Island in northwestern Panama.  Known as Pendula, this species may be found on the Caribbean islands and from southern Mexico to Panama. Click to see big picture (365x480 pixels; 79 KB)
Flowers of the Citharexylum genus are also attractive, and the trees have been adopted by many tropical gardens. Click to see big picture (560x480 pixels; 127 KB)

Oleaceae is the Olive Family, which retains about 600 species, mainly in temperate and subtropical zones.  In addition to olives, it has given us several ornamental flowers, including jasmine and the lilacs.
 
 
Ligustrum lucidum started out in China, but is now widely planted from the southern U.S. to Argentina, and has proved invasive in some areas.  For some reason its English name is Glossy Pivot, while the latinos tend to call it Aligustre. Click to see big picture (536x480 pixels; 119 KB)
Presenting Chionanthus pubescens.  Said to be of Malaysian origin, but cultivated in Ecuador and elsewhere.  Botanical Gardens of Bogota. Click to see big picture (502x480 pixels; 95 KB)
And here is Chionanthus pubescens in the wild, high in the Cordillera Condor that forms the Peru-Ecuador border.  The genus is referred to as Fringetrees in English, and the name Argupo is used locally. Click to see big picture (593x480 pixels; 124 KB)
The interesting thing about Forestiera cartaginensis is the way that shoots sprouting from the lower trunk become trees in their own right, forming a thicket.  Mexico to Peru. Click to see big picture (356x480 pixels; 89 KB)


It is still known as the Plantain Family, and back when Plataginaceae had only three genera, the weedy little plantains had some status.  Now that a massive dump from the breakup of the Figworts has increased its size to some 90 genera and 1700 species, there are suggestions that the family be named after something less forgettable, such as the Penstemons.
 

 
The Plantains (no relation to plantain bananas) of the Plantago genus are worldly weeds of small stature.  This is likely Plantago australis, which betimes is called Mexican Plantain, although it is widespread in the Neotropics, where it and its kin are known as Llanten. Click to see big picture (283x480 pixels; 90 KB)
Plantago rigida is a very different creature.  It is a mat-forming member of the high alpine (ie. paramo) community in the Andes from here in Colombia to Bolivia.  The local name is Colchon de Agua (water cushion), perhaps because the leaves trap rain water. Click to see big picture (575x480 pixels; 160 KB)
Russelia equisetiformis is a Mexican contribution to tropical gardens around the world.  It is called everything from Coral Fountain to Firecracker Fern.  In Latin America, terms such as Lagrimas de Cupido (or Jupiter) are common, although it is hard to imagine the flowers as tears. Click to see big picture (404x480 pixels; 101 KB)
Russelia equisetiformis also comes in white, although it is not clear if this is natural or of horticultural origin. Click to see big picture (519x480 pixels; 35 KB)
Russelia sarmentosa has similar flowers but very different form and leaves.  It is known as Leafy Coralblow or Red Firecracker Plant, and has spread from Mexico through much of the Neotropics. Click to see big picture (637x480 pixels; 99 KB)
There are some 250 species of Penstemon recognized, and many more cultivars and hybrids.  For those who want to dig deeper, the American Penstemon Society may be tapped at www.apsdev.org.  This species from the mountains of southern Mexico features twin flowers.  No idea of its designation. Click to see big picture (575x480 pixels; 64 KB)
From the hills of Mexico's Oaxaca Province, this appears to be Penstemon barbatus, which for some reason goes by the name of Beardip Penstemon in its range from the southern U. S. to southern Mexico. Click to see big picture (525x480 pixels; 94 KB)
With the same range as beardip, this is likely Penstemon roseus, again from upland Mexico. Click to see big picture (411x480 pixels; 70 KB)
This photo from a pass in central Mexico might be one of several species, but similar photos have been posted under the name of Penstemon gentianoides. Click to see big picture (329x480 pixels; 90 KB)
But then the botanical gardens at University of California, Berkeley, present this as an example of Penstemon gentianoides. Click to see big picture (435x480 pixels; 100 KB)
While across the bay, here is San Francisco Botanical Garden's take on Penstemon gentianoides.  This one actually looks a bit like a gentian. Click to see big picture (459x480 pixels; 69 KB)


Figwort is easier to pronounce than Scrophulariaceae, but by whatever name, this once proud family has had most of its 275 original genera torn away and distributed to other families in the Lamiales Order.  There is not a whole lot left.
 

 
Torenia fournieri carries a Chinese passport, but under the garden name of Wishbone Flower, it has been widely planted and escaped.  Here it is near the Catarata de Toro in Costa Rica.  There are those who would like to file this species under something called the Linderniaceae. Click to see big picture (314x480 pixels; 80 KB)
Buddleja americana may be found in the Caribbean and in the western Neotropics from central Mexico to Bolivia.  It is used for everything from headaches to tumors.  Salvia Castilla and Hierba de Mosco are two of its many names. Click to see big picture (523x480 pixels; 88 KB)
Buddleja nitida is a mountain plant, ranging from southern Mexico to Panama, and is being studied as a snake anti-venom.  This genus started out in the Loganiaceae, then briefly had their own family before being sent to shore up the crumbling Figworts. Click to see big picture (461x480 pixels; 102 KB)