Dave Looks for Plants

Journal of a plant explorer

Archive for May 12th, 2006

Cerro Nara

Friday, May 12th, 2006

The next morning I climbed in the saddle and off we went up the mountain.  I am not an experienced horseback rider, and my horse only knew Spanish, so we were in a bit of trouble from the start.  Fortunately the horse had a pretty good idea where we were going and if the horse didn’t, Carlos did.  

When we got near the top, I spotted what I was looking for — the plant that had been (incorrectly) identified as Costus barbatus turned out to be Costus ricus  As it turned out this species which is endemic to Costa Rica and known mostly from the Osa Peninsula was very common there at Cerro Nara.  Costus ricus is the only species of Costus I have found that flowers ONLY in the DRY SEASON.  It starts flowering in January and continues into the early part of the rainy season.  After about August, you will no longer find any new flowers — only the colorful red bracts from the dry season inflorescence.  This worked in my favor for the timing of this trip because I saw hundreds of these plants in full flower at Cerro Nara.

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At first Carlos wanted me to stay in a small hut because the generator was not working in the main lodge, but after one look I knew that was not suitable, and took the lodge with or without electricity.  It is a huge place with a beautiful view of the coastal plain and the Pacific Ocean below.  My meals were prepared by the caretaker’s family who lived about a km down the road.

The next three days I spent exploring the trails around Cerro Nara looking for Costus and the afternoons and evenings sitting on the balcony of the lodge watching the sun set over the Pacific and the lights of the settlements below.  Except for my trips down the lane to get my meals at Marielo’s house, I was there by myself and enjoying the solitude.

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As for the plants, there was a beautiful specimen of Costus glaucus growing right in front of the lodge….

Costus_glaucus-CerroNara-01 Costus_glaucus-CerroNara-02
 

and a nice form of Costus scaber growing behind the lodge with longer, showier flowers than I have normally seen.

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