Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Phyllonoma ruscifolia  is a very unusual plant, as its flower clusters are formed directly from the upper surface of the leaf.

Phyllonoma ruscifolia was collected by Museum scientists in La Amistad national park in Costa Rica and Panama (2003-2008) as part of a Defra-funded conservation project in the area.

Phyllonoma ruscifolia was designated a keystone species for the park but is threatened as agriculture and logging in the area are destroying its habitat. 

Species detail

Phyllonoma

Phyllonoma is a very unusual genus of small trees, shrubs and woody epiphytes found in cloud forest from Mexico (Durango) to North Western Bolivia.

What makes these plants very unusual is the fact that the flower clusters are formed directly from the upper surface of the leaf, giving the appearance that somebody has sprinkled flowers over the whole plant!

There are four species within this genus, P. ruscifolia being the most common.

Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Phyllonoma ruscifolia is one of nearly 3,000 species of plants collected during exploration of La Amistad national park in Costa Rica and Panama (2003- 2008) as part of a  Museum-led project funded by Defra to support the conservation of this area. It has been designated as one of 200 keystone species (a species that has a notable effect on its environment) for the Park.

Conservation assessment has been undertaken and it was established that, according to IUCN criteria, P. ruscifolia is Near Threatened.

  • Phyllonoma ruscifolia bisexual flower
    Taxonomy

    Learn about the shape, size and colour of Phyllonoma ruscifolia and what distinguishes it from other members of the genus.

  • Distribution of Phyllonoma ruscifolia across Costa Rica and Panama
    Distribution

    Discover where Phyllonoma ruscifolia can be found, the altitude it grows at and how its seeds are believed to be dispersed.

  • Phyllonoma ruscifolia
    Conservation

    Find out why Phyllonoma ruscifolia has been classified as Near Threatened and the process that led to this conservation status.

  • Phyllonoma ruscifolia
    References

    Get reference material for Phyllonoma ruscifolia.

Images

Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Phyllonoma ruscifolia showing the dark green, shiny, narrow egg-shaped to elliptic leaves with flower clusters at their very pronounced tips.The flower clusters develop from flower bud tissue which during plant growth becomes displaced attaching to the main vein of the upper leaf surface.

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Phyllonoma ruscifolia showing flower clusters at the base of the leaf-tip. formed directly from the upper surface of the leaf. 

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

The bisexual flowers of Phyllonoma ruscifolia are usually white to pale green and sometimes tinged orange

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Unripened green fruit of Phyllonoma ruscifoliaare spherical and cherry-like, these ripen to white or bright red. 

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Ripening spherical and cherry-like Phyllonoma ruscifolia fruit borne of the flower cluster at the base of the leaf-tip.

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

A ripe white Phyllonoma ruscifolia fruit, spherical and cherry-like and borne of the flower cluster at the base of the leaf-tip.

© A Munro
Phyllonoma ruscifolia

Phyllonoma ruscifolia showing ripe white fruits at the tips of leaves that developed from the flower clusters. 

© A Munro
About the author

Dr Alex Monro

Researcher, Department of Botany.

Share this

Glossary

Keystone species 

A species that has a notable effect on its environment