This page contains photos and description of a species, form or cultivar of Costaceae.

Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 7592

Costus oreophilus


OLD NAME: Costus sp. nov.

NEW NAME: Costus oreophilus

NAME CHANGE NOTES: New species published March 22, 2023 in PhytoKeys 222: 75-127, formerly C. laevis but with pubescent leaves and sheath.

FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus oreophilus Maas & D.Skinner

STATUS : sp. nov.

CONTINENT: Neotropical

FIELD OBSERVATIONS:(If field observations are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)
FIELD OBSERVATIONS

PHOTOS:(If photos are available, you can click on the link to open in a new window.)
GOOGLE PHOTO ALBUM

SYNONYMS:


BOTANICAL NOTES:
Costus oreophilus was published March 22, 2023 in PhytoKeys 222: 75-127 by Paul Maas and Dave Skinner. I first discovered this species in 2015 in the Podocarpus National Park in southern Ecuador. A local orchid specialist, Marco Jimenez and his son Marco showed me the area, as we hiked to an old abandoned farm far off the park trails and several kilometers south of the main part of the park's Zamora entrance. The non-appendaged bracts with an open-labellum, adaxially oriented flower indicated this should be included in Costus laevis (now Cosus kuntzei) . There were however several differences such as the flower color and the existence of hairs on most plant parts. As we further explored the region we saw several more populations of this plant form, all in the mountains at elevations above 1100 meters.

When I later showed my photos and measurements to Paul Maas, he said this was an undescribed species, also found farther north in the mountainous areas of the province of Tungurahua, growing at similar elevations. He had seen herbarium specimens of this plant from there, and noticed the differences between it and C. laevis, but there was insufficient data to describe a new species. Dr. Maas had noted in his 1972 description of Costus laevis (now C. kuntzei), "Three Ecuadorian collections deviated by being densely puberulous to velutinous on the lower side of the leaves. The flower material being very incomplete I could not determine their taxonomic status, i. e. whether it is a veriety of C. laevis or a distinct species." These three specimens are now included in Costus oreophilus.

Based on those specimens and my observations in Zamora-Chinchipe, we drafted a description for a new species. This new species can be distinguished from others by the indumenta and by a ligule shorter than 5 mm. It is only known from Ecuador. I suggested the name oreophilus meaning "mountain loving" . Paul selected as a type specimen the collection from Tungurahua by Asplund 20068, which was found at 1500 meters.

In January 2022 I traveled to Tungurahua, Ecuador to search for these plants and found several populations - all above 1400 meters - in areas both to the north and south of the Rio Pastaza. I collected additional samples, took photos and measurments and we could thus confirm the new species in both Zamora-Chinchipe and in Tungurahua, Ecuador. There are some differences between the two regions, mainly in the density of the indumenta, but they appear to be the same species. The plants in Tungurahua all have unique-looking flowers with the corolla lobes sharply reflexed - something not seen in any other species with spreading labellums.

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 R3332 at the old farmstead near PN Podocarpus, and it was found to be in a clade very close to Costus zamoranus. It will be interesting to see if the samples from Tungurahua place in the same clade as Zamora-Chinchipe.

HORTICULTURAL NOTES:
To my knowledge, the only place this species is in cultivation is in my garden. I have recently sent propagules to be grown at Fairchild Tropical Gardens in Miami. These accessions have not yet flowered in my garden, but photos from the field can be seen at the links below or on Inaturalist.org.

Here is a thumbnail sheet with photos of the beautiful yellow flowering form.
http://www.gingersrus.com/images/R3333

And this one with mostly red flowers, but also with leaves sheathing the inflorescence, small calyx, and variable hairs on the upper side of leaves, soft dense hairs on the lower sides of leaves. Thumbnail sheet athttp://www.gingersrus.com/images/R3332

The accession R3189 may or may not be this new species. It was collected at about 1000 meters near Gualaquiza, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador. It has the corolla lobes folded back as in Costus oreophilus but the flower is abaxially oriented.

ACCESSIONS:Click links (if any) to see details of individual collections. R3189- R3332- R3333- R3522- R3523-


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Photos (if available) of Taxon ID 7592
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Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner,  Old Loja Road-Ecuador inflorescence - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 269 Accession# R0
Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner, Old Loja Road-Ecuador inflorescence


Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner,  Old Loja Road-Ecuador - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 270 Accession# R0
Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner, Old Loja Road-Ecuador


Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner,  Old Loja Road-Ecuador - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 271 Accession# R0
Costus oreophilus, photo from Skinner, Old Loja Road-Ecuador


Costus oreophilus type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 510 Accession# R0
Costus oreophilus type specimen


Costus oreophilus type specimen - Click to see full sized image
Photo# 511 Accession# R0
Costus oreophilus type specimen