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Tropical plants and flowers 3-25-2010 A botanist’s dream.

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Presentation on theme: "Tropical plants and flowers 3-25-2010 A botanist’s dream."— Presentation transcript:

1 Tropical plants and flowers A botanist’s dream

2 Annato, or Lipstick Bush, is a common spice.

3 Annato lipstick in action.

4 Who can resist plucking a Hotlips flower and sticking it between your lips?

5 Now you see why they are called hot lips.

6 Bat Flowers (Tacca) are so named due to the black flowers reminding someone of bats.

7 Black orchids, the Belize national flower

8 Orchids are not uncommon, but depend on the right amount of rain to bloom.

9 People love orchids because they are beautiful. Biologists love them because they are sexual tricksters.

10 Utricularia, or Bladderwort, is an insectivorous plant. In the U.S., they are almost all aquatic. The roots and insectivorous bladders (the white ones) of this species grow in soil. The specimen is from a cloud forest in Venezuela.

11 Jackass Bitters is one of the most important medicinal plants to the Maya. It is most often used for an upset stomach (“the bitta, the betta”)

12 Doug Nobile curing his runs by chewing Jackass bitters.

13 The beefworm plant oozes a white, alkaloid that Maya use to kill botfly larvae.

14 Marcos Ack shows the white alkaloid ooze that one dabs on the beefworm to kill it.

15 Beefworm plant flowers and fruits (taken in August).

16 Red-sticky is a common plant used by the Maya to stop bleeding. They just wad up the leaves and press them on the wound. It gets its name from the reddish stem.

17 Fish Plant is a rounded leafed plant that the Maya use to wrap fish when cooking. It also has medicinal uses.

18 Cassava (manihot, manioc, yuca) is a staple food of the Maya.

19 Vincenti Ack and Macal, also called poi. In the southeast, it grows wild along bayous and rivers and is called Elephant Ear, Colocasia.

20 Primitive societies always had viagra-like medications.

21 This is parapim, the kek’chi name for the viagra-like plant used in San Miguel.

22 This plant is used to ease heavy menstruation.

23 This wild yam is used to induce abortion.

24 A Caribbean favorite is cristophine (called merliton in New Orleans).

25 Pipers (same genus as black pepper), with their characteristic seed stalks sticking straight up, are from the tropics.

26 Bird peppers – a favorite in Belize.

27 A passion flower species in fruit. Near Belmopan, 8-07.

28 An unidentified legume in fruit. Note the closed leaves to the left. Near Belmopan, 8-07.

29 Bougainvillea is a common tropical landscape species (also comes in purple & peach).

30 Pineapples grow in most people’s yards, and are wonderful when fresh.

31 Bottlebrush plants attract a variety of nectar feeding animals.

32 More flowers on trees.

33 Frangipani’s, a commonly seen non- native, are very pretty and aromatic.

34 Helios is a non-chlorophyll plant found in Cockscomb in 2004.

35 Heliconias come in a variety of shapes & colors. Have interesting communities of organisms that live in those colorful bracts [good research topic!]

36 Vincente Ack demonstrates how to make a sound like a toucan with a heliconia flower.

37 Writing heliconia

38 Gingers are also common in the tropics – and there are a number of species.

39 Drip-tip leaves – very characteristic of tropical plants. They ensure that the leaf doesn’t stay wet and encourage growth of mold and mildew.

40 A wonderful drip-tip leaf on a palm in Tambopata, Perú.

41 Melastomataceae – a characteristic plant family of the tropics.

42 Mistletoe: Central Venezuela. The plant (l), the very sticky seed (r) that sticks to the bill of birds, and a new plant (bottom) that grows from a seed scraped off the birds beak on the limb.

43 Cacti are also typical of most tropical environments. (Why?)

44 Devil’s Guts is a type of cactus that produces a tasty fruit called pataya.

45 Shoe String Cactus, Rhipsalis capilliformis

46 Solanum mammosum: fruit of Udder Plant (l) and spines on another species’ leaf (r) that prevent predation.

47 Most species of Solanum are toxic; again, note the spines on the tops of their leaves. BTW, the tomato is a member of the Solanaceae.

48 Datura (Angel’s Trumpets) are common. This is a common source of hallucinogenic compounds.

49 A typical tropical Hibiscus species.

50 Jade vine is a common ornamental in the tropics. (Another legume…)

51 The Traveling Palm is a common landscape species. Not native—introduced from Madagascar, just like Flamboyant.

52 The grapes on Beach Grapes.

53 Tropical fruits, such as this caimito, often look weird.

54 John Crow Bead, Cojoba graciflora

55 Tietie vine – Belize. The “hooks” help it to climb. They are only on the distal end of the vine.

56 Tietie has long, sharp thorns, and is a bush as it grows.

57 Close-your-butt (also called Bay Cedar, Pixoy, Tapaculo), Guazuma ulmiflora. Guess what it is used for. Don’t eat too many mangos!

58 You may be familiar with louffas, used in our tubs. On the right is a louffa, which is the interior of those growing on vines (l) in San Miguel.

59 Sleeping plants in the rainforest in Trinidad.

60 Japanese Hats, Holmskiolda sanguinea – Trinidad.

61 Spiny Bamboo is common along rivers in Belize. Iguanas love to bask on the upper branches, and thus got the name “bamboo chickens.”

62 When you see stands of bamboo like this, look closely for iguanas.

63 Haul-em-back – a common vine that is covered with small thorns that simply will not let go of you.

64 The fronds of all ferns grow from unfolding “fiddleheads.”

65 The Powder Puff Tree, Calliandra. Hummingbirds love this plant.

66 Sugarcane is a common agricultural crop in the north.

67 “Sameness” of tropical forests Dark with flecks of sun Tall trees (at least appearing so, due to “thin” shape with most branches high) Flaring roots, buttresses, prop roots Tangled where sunlight penetrates Lots of woody vines Humid!!!

68 “Sameness” of plants Many woody Wood often hard and insect resistant (why?) Leaves –Drip trips –Waxy –Often oval, unlobed, and with no teeth

69 Differences of tropical forests Rich (e.g., alluvial) vs. poor (sandy) soils Evolutionary history (kinds of organisms) Terra firme vs. várzea Not all wet or superwet—don’t forget the seasonally dry forest (and savannahs and high mountains and …)


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