A month ago and together with colleagues at the Harvard Herbarium (Laura Lagomarsino) and the Environmental Services Unit of Heredia Public Services Costa Rica (Quiricó Jimenéz-Madrigal) we published a paper describing two new species of tree in the flowering-plant family, Pentaphylaceae, one of which Freziera tararae that we had collected during fieldwork funded by the Natural History Museum’s Collections Enhancement Fund in 2012. It always feels like a real and long-lasting contribution to science to describe and publish a new species for science, no matter how often you do it. It is especially rewarding to publish a new species that you have collected yourself, even more so when it is collected in a spectacularly beautiful and species-rich place as the La Amistad World Heritage site in Costa Rica / Panama.
Freziera tarariae was collected just below the peak of Cerro Tarara on a very cold morning in 2012 after having camped on the top of the peak wearing all of our clothes and huddled next to each other for warmth. The view was spectacular, clouds scudding past below and around us giving way to a bright emerald green horizon of forest as the sun came up and as we clambered down the steep sides of the peak Daniel Santamaría, a very promising young Costa Rican botanist, spotted the tree he had been hoping to find, a new species of Freziera that he had collected a year previously but without flowers. The tree itself is associated with disturbed high elevation forests in the Talamanca Mountains, one of the most species-rich areas in the World for plants.