Gingersrus Database Taxon ID 7785
OLD NAME: Costus sp. nov.
NEW NAME: Costus whiskeycola
NAME CHANGE NOTES: New species based on Plowman collection that is referred to as 'El Whiskey', now published March 22, 2023 in PhytoKeys 222: 75-127.
FULL SCIENTIFIC NAME: Costus whiskeycola Maas & H.Maas
STATUS : sp. nov.
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Costus whiskeycola was published March 22, 2023 in PhytoKeys 222: 75-127 by Paul and Hiltje Maas. The species is based upon the 1974 collection by Tim Plowman No. 4396 in Colombia, Putumayo at a place near the Quebrada El Whiskey called Finca Santa Marta, at Km 42 from Pepino to Puerto Asis. It has been widely cultivated around the world for many years, usually placed within the similar looking species Costus erythrophyllus and known by the cultivar name Costus 'El Whiskey'. The the catchy name of Costus whiskeycola, roughly means "whiskey dweller" or "exists only in whiskey" in the Latin.
During his July 2018 trip to Putumayo, Dr. Maas was unable to find it growing there, and later in December of that year, I traveled there to continue the search. A local civil engineer from VillagarzÃ³n, Angell Lunes, who knows the area very well, agreed to help me in the search. Angell had worked for the pipeline companies and had some years before worked throughout that area surveying for new pipeline construction. Angell and I walked down a trail through the old Finca which now has mostly been deforested, and searched through every forest patch we could find, but did not see anything like Costus 'El Whiskey'. Later on about 40 km distant, along the road past Puerto Asis near to the end of the road, we did see one plant that was not in flower but looked a lot like the plant we had been searching for.
Also in the same region, I found several plants of the species Costus erythrophyllus that were quite different in leaf texture and color from the 'El Whiskey' plant, adding some indication that 'El Whiskey' is indeed a separate species. Some leaf tissue from the plant found along that road past Puerto Asis was collected for DNA with the idea that a molecular phylogeny will help to indicate whether or not it is a separate species. However, without finding a verifiable plant in flower elsewhere in the wild, Dr. Maas was not confident enough to describe it as a separate species.
Then in January 2022, I was exploring for Costus in Ecuador in Napo province about 10 km west of Tena, and I found a large patch of the same plant form growing in the forest behind the hotel where I was staying, but it was not in flower. Several days later, my guide in the area took me to a 30 hectare plot of primary forest that had been in his family for several generations and we found another population of this plant in flower in the wild. Photos, measurements and leaf tissue samples were taken and Dr. Maas at last was confident enough to describe it as his new species Costus whiskeycola.
A preliminary 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. A sample from the cultivated plant 'El Whiskey' was included in a molecular phylogeny and found to be in a separate clade, closely related to Costus erythrothrysus. Additional sampling of both species will probably clarify their respective evolutionary lineages.
Entry from Tim Plowman journal.
Plowman 4396 collection grown by Paul Maas at Utrecht, the Netherlands.
Angell Luna, helping me search for the plant on the abandoned Finca Santa Marta.
Plant found (R3463) along road past Puerto Asis (above) and Costus 'El Whiskey' in my garden (below).
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