A new species of tree from Central America

Freziera tararae 4
Freziera tararae, one of two species we have recently described in the Harvard Papers in Botany

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.

The main author of the paper, Daniel Santamaria, collecting at 2800 m on the peak of one of the Cerros Tarara in Costa Rica

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.

Line drawing of Freziera tararae from the original article in the Harvard Papers in Botany




2 thoughts on “A new species of tree from Central America”

  1. Hi Alex,

    Good paper, lovely place, congratulations. This genus is the Neotropical version of Eurya we have in the Old World – quite a tricky group that needs work.


    Dr. T.M.A. Utteridge
    Assistant Head of Science (Identification & Naming), ext. 5279

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