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Tropical botany researcher

2 Posts tagged with the guatemala tag
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I have just published eight new species of shrub in the potato family, Solanaceae in the freely available journal Phytokeys. In the article I describe new species from the genus Cestrum from Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. Central America is one of the most densely populated and best explored parts of Latin America and it is amazing that even here we are still coming across new species. In this case most of the species were first collected years ago and had sat in plant collections unidentified since then. This is not an unusual phenomenon in botany (see this article published in 2010). In fact in the case of Cestrum about a third of the specimens in Musuem and Botanical Garden collections had never been identified! Cestrum is a genus of about 150 species of woody shrubs and small trees which occurr in Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. They have beautiful trumpet shaped flowers which range in colour from purple, pink, yellow ornage or white and which can be very fragrant. You may know one species, Cestrum aurantiacum, which although not common can be seen in gardens across the UK and USA. One of the species (see below) was named after a close friend and colleague, Gill Stevens, who died last year after a long illness and so is of special importance to me.

 

Cestrum gilliae

Cestrum gilliae PhytoKeys-008-049-g005.jpg

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In collaboration with the US NGO the Maya Nut Institute and women's cooperatives in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, the Natural History Museum is hosting a project to produce tools for the sustainable use of the tropical forest tree Maya Nut (Brosimum alicastrum). A project funded by Defra through the Darwin Inititiative. This will involve providing training to cooperatives in the collection and interpretation of harvest data with the aim of helping them to calculate sustainable harvest levels, developing a protocol for the long term storage of the seed and discovering the genetic structure of this species with a view to supporting the sustainable reforestation using this species. Tonya Lander, formerly at INRA Avignon has joined the Museum to study the population structure of this species across Central America. Tonya has a background in population, landscape and pollination molecular ecology and we are very excited that she has joined us.

 

 

Tonya  on fieldwork in ChileMaya Nut fruit 
Tonya at the Reserva Nacional Los Queules small.jpgbrosimum fruit small.jpg