Tropical Ecology



Plant Taxa

2008

NOTICE: You will be expected to know the common names (if available) as well as Family, Genus and Species names of these plants as presented. You will also be expected to identify them from photos AND/OR in person. There are approximately 9,000 species of vascular plant in Costa Rica: If you feel overly burdened by this list keep in mind that you are required to learn less than 0.5% of the Costa Rican flora.


Why so much memorization??     While memorization is required to fulfill this academic task, THE TASK IS NOT ABOUT MEMORIZATION; it is about understanding the evolution and diversity of the Neotropical flora. Modern biology organizes living things into a hierarchy that reflects their evolutionary relationships. For example, all the species in the family Rubiaceae are more closely related to each other than any of them are to a species in the family Fabaceae. Fully understanding the implications of evolution and the evolutionary relationships conveyed by modern taxonomy makes this excercise one of understanding and insight.


Final Note:    Learn these species names a few at a time; start NOW. Take the responsibility to make this learning experience as enjoyable and stress free as it should be.



Agricultural Plants
Family
Scientific Name
Common Name and More Photos
Rubiaceae
Coffea arabica
coffee
Musaceae
Musa spp.
bananas
Sterculiaceae
Theobroma cacao
chocolate, cacao
Arecaceae
Elaeis guineensis
african oil palm

Cocos nucifera
coconut

Bactris gasipaes
pejibaye palm, trunk, fruit
Solanaceae
Solanum tuberosum
potato
Poaceae
Oryza sativa
rice

Saccharum officinarum
sugar cane
Euphorbiaceae
Manihot esculenta
yucca, manioc

Hevea brasiliensis
rubber tree

Ricinus communis castorbean
Moraceae Artocarpus altilis breadfruit
Caricaceae Carica papaya papaya
Bromeliaceae Ananas comosus pineapple
Solanaceae Datura suaveolens jimson weed, reina de la noche
Myrtaceae Psidium guaiava guava
Araceae Xanthosoma violacium tiquisque
Bignoniaceae Spathodea campanulata african tulip tree, flower


Living Fenceposts
Family Scientific Name Common Name and More Photos
Burseraceae Bursera simaruba gumbo limbo, tourist tree, naked indian, bark
Fabaceae Gliricidia sepium quickstick

Erythrina costaricensis flower
Winteraceae Drimys winteri winter bark, casca de anta
Moraceae Ficus spp. fig tree


Palo Verde: Tropical Deciduous Forest
Family Scientific Name Common Name and More Photos
Anacardiaceae Astronium graveolens ron-ron
Bombacaceae Bombacopsis quinatum pochote, spiny cedar
Moraceae Brosimum alicastrum baco, breadnut trunk
Sapotaceae Mastichodendron capiri tempisque
Rubiaceae Calycophyllum candidissimum madrono
Fabaceae Enterolobium cyclocarpum guanacaste

Pithecellobium saman Cenízaro, raintree

Parkinsonia aculeata palo verde

Sesbania emerus danglepod
Euphorbiaceae Euphorbia schlechtendalii Palo de leche
Zygophyllaceae Guaiacum sanctum Lignum Vitae, Holywood, Tree of Life
Verbenaceae Rehdera trinervis yayo
Typhaceae Typha latifolia broadleaf cattail
Marantaceae Thalia geniculata flower pic
Convolvulaceae Ipomoea sp. Churristate, Morning Glory


Monte Verde: Cloud Forest
Family Scientific Name Common Name and More Photos
Clusiaceae Clusia spp.
Araliaceae Didymopanax pittieri Papayillo
Aspleniaceae Elaphoglossum spp.
Gunneraceae Gunnera insignis poor man's umbrella, sombrilla de pobre
Melastomataceae Miconia spp.
Dicksoniaceae and Cyatheaceae
tree ferns
Fagaceae Quercus spp. oaks
Ericaceae Vaccinium spp. various berries


La Selva: Tropical Rain Forest
Family Scientific Name Common Name and More Photos
Euphorbiaceae Alchornea costaricensis Nagua blanca
Boraginaceae Cordia alliodora laurel
Cecropiaceae Cecropia insignis Guarumo
Cecropiaceae Cecropia obtusifolia Guarumo
Moraceae Ficus glabrata Chilamate

Ficus tuerckheimii strangler fig
Rubiaceae Hamelia patens firebush
Heliconiaceae Heliconia latispatha Platanillo, Wild Plantain
Tiliaceae Luehea seemannii Guácimo Colorado
Bombacaceae Ochroma lagopus balsa flower
Fabaceae Pithecellobium longifolium Sota Caballo

Bauhinia guianensis Escalera de Mono, Monkey Ladder

Dipteryx panamensis Almendro, Mountain Almond

Hymenolobium mesoamericanum

Inga spp. guabo

Pentaclethra macroloba oil tree
Cyclanthaceae Asplundia spp.
Meliaceae Carapa nicaraguensis
Malvaceae Ceiba pentandra Ceiba, Kapok, Silk Cotton tree, trunk, flower, fruit
Araceae Dieffenbachia longispatha Dumb Cane, Tuft Root, Otó de Lagarto, Rábano, Cimarrón

Philodendron spp.

Monstera spp.

Spathiphyllum fulvovirens
Arecaceae Geonoma spp. palm

Iriartea deltoidea Barrigona or copa palm

Socratea exorrhiza walking palm

Welfia georgii palm
Euphorbiaceae Hura crepitans Sandbox tree, Possumwood, Jabillo

Hyeronima alchorneoides zapatero, pilón, palo chancho, piedro
Aquifoliaceae Ilex skutchii
Flacourtiaceae Laetia procera periquiteira, pau-jacare
Lecythidaceae Lecythis ampla
Piperaceae Piper spp. candela
Burseraceae Protium pittieri
Combretaceae Terminalia oblongata yellowood - exotic from Australia
Myristicaceae Virola koschnyi Fruta Dorada, Wild Nutmeg
Rubiaceae Warszewiczia coccinea
Zamiaceae Zamia skinneri



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