Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 4603
OLD NAME: Costus cupreifolius
NEW NAME: Costus cupreifolius
NAME CHANGE NOTES:
FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus cupreifolius Maas
STATUS : accepted
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Costus cupreifolius is an accepted neo-tropical Costus species described by Paul Maas in 1976. It is described as being about 1 meter tall with all vegetative parts except the upper side of the leaves being densely covered with white hairs. The lower side of the leaves is described having a coppery-red color for which the species is named. The terminal inflorescence is cylindric in shape with reflexed, foliaceous bract appendages and tubular flowers (in bud). Maas apparently did not have fully developed flowers to study and did not indicate the coloration of the corolla or labellum, but the isotype at NYBG has this description of the flowers by the collector, Joseph A. Ewan #16748. "Stems lower than 16747 being only 1 m. high, with a dense clavate inflor., fls. orange-yellow, tubular, less orchid-like, emerging from densely massed buds, a few fls. at a time, under side of lvs. coppery-red, attractive. Near San Diego de Colorado, tributary of Rio Putumayo, above Puerto Asis, Ca. 650 m. ele."
Until recently, Costus cupreifolius was known only from the type locality in Putumayo, Colombia at a location listed by the collector as "San Diego de Los Colorados" at a reported elevation of 650 meters, and "tributary of Rio Putamayo", There were no photographs or detailed descriptions of the flowers - only the dried herbarium specimen with Ewan's notations. This region was very dangerous and occupied by the revolutionary group called the FARC until a peace agreement was signed in 2016.
In 2018 I traveled to the area to search for this and several other Costus species. The stated location of San Diego did not at all match the reported elevation and could not be determined from the maps. Then with the help of Angell Lunes, owner of the hotel where I was staying in VillagarzÃ³n, we traveled by boat up the river from Puerto Calceido to a place called Vereda San Diego, the site of an old Spanish mission. Most of the region was deforested for coca growing but in one small forest patch I found Costus cupreifolius and was able to take photos, detailed descriptions and some leaf tissue for DNA extraction.
A partial phylogeny was completed by Eugenio Valderrama and his associates in the Chelsea Specht Lab at Cornell University and was published in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science in September 2022. DNA has been extracted from my collection R3462. The sample is in a clade with a sample from R2708 - the Costus charatceus sample from CaquetÃ¡, Colombia to the north of Putumayo.
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