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Mixed Fruit and Nuts   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog January 14th 2013

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A Waterless Place

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This has been another week of bright sunny days and rising temperatures.  There has not been a drop of rain this week.  The level of water at the ponds is dropping.  There are fewer species of amphibian out but now the Savage’s Thin-fingered Frogs have started to congregate around the pond simply because it is a damper than the surrounding areas.

At night the Cat-eyed Snakes can be seen lying around the edge of the pond waiting for the froglets to emerge from the water.  You can sometimes see them with their heads beneath the surface of the water picking off the tadpoles which hang motionless in the nighttime shallows.

Colorful Confetti

The sun continues to bring out the butterflies which are increasing on an almost daily basis both in terms of numbers and individuals.  It doesn’t take much to stroll around the grounds with your camera at the ready to get some nice shots, the earlier the better before they warm up.

Last week I got some nice photos of Chlosyne theona which was out in full sun on the side of a hillock.  This week it was in exactly the same place so I took some more shots.  It wasn’t easy being in full sun with a constant breeze blowing against the butterflies wings.  Not too far away, again settled close to the ground thus requiring some awkward but nonetheless stealthy maneuvering to get close was a Pyrisitia nise.  These small yellow butterflies seemingly never settle so here was an opportunity to snap an image.  The problem was the wings being parallel with the bright sun making it difficult to truly capture the bright lemon yellow coloration.  Not so far away was a White Peacock, (Anartia jatrophae).  It refused to land so that I could get the right angle to photograph the spread of its wings but there will be many other days and more opportunities over the coming months to do so.

Chlosyne theona

Pyrisitia nise

Anartia jatrophae

A Bouquet and a Basket of Fruit

As the conditions become progressively drier, the trees begin to flower.  At this point in time as you walk through the forest there are places along the trails where the ground is covered in a carpet of fallen yellow flowers dropped from the overhanging branches of the Garlic Trees, (Caryocar costaricensis).  This is by no means the only flower to be seen but it stands out because of its bright golden color.  Not so intense in color but noticeable due to it strangely shaped blossoms are the flowers of the Hule or Rubber Tree, (Castilla tunu).  The soft gold velvety male inflorescence is shaped like a folded tortilla filled with the stamens. Currently it is possible to see the fruits lying on the ground too.  These come from the pollinated female flowers and resemble a miniature basket filled with green pairs.  When cut into, the trunk of the tree exudes white liquid latex that is processed to produce rubber.

Castilla tunu male flower

Castilla tunu fruit

A Hint of Spice

One of the distinctive fruits decorating the forest floor at the moment is that from the Fruta Dorada, the Golden Fruit Tree better known as nutmegs.  The nutmeg we use in a culinary situation is an Indonesian species belonging to the same Family Myristicaceae.  There are four species of nutmeg, (Virola spp), to be found within the forests of Bosque del Cabo.  The species that is currently fruiting is V. guatemalensis.

Virola guatemalensis

When the fruit first falls to the ground it is a green to yellow in color hence the golden fruit.  The shell is closed holding the seed hidden within.  But as it dries, it splits revealing a visceral looking membrane that provides a bright flash of red.  Red is a very important color in the forest.  It is the complimentary color to green.  Whereas green is a very cool color, red is a very hot color.  Birds having acute color vision will see fiery red a long way off standing out vividly against the cold verdant background.

Virola guatemalensis

Particularly with the nutmegs they are attracting the attention of Chestnut-mandibled Toucans, (Ramphastos swainsonii).  Toucans are fruit eating birds that gulp the fruits down whole.  The red covering to the seed is called the aril.  It is very tasty and nutritious.  The toucan digests the aril but is now left with a gut full of big heavy seeds which is not conducive to flight, so the bird regurgitates up the seeds thereby distributing them some distance from the parent tree.  In effect the tree attracted the bird in using the color red, gave it a nice tasty reward in the form of the aril to eat the seed which is then transported away and dispersed.

The Indonesian nutmeg, Myristica fragrans, is used in two ways.  The seed is dried and ground to give the familiar spice nutmeg whereas the aril is dried and ground to give the spice mace.  Certain of the South American nutmegs when tapped give a sap which is used in tribal rituals; the least of its effects being that of one of the most powerful hallucinogens that we know of.

Shady Characters

One other plant that has previously found their way into these pages has been in flower again.  One the Titi Trail you will see many corky vines woven within the fabric of the other plants.  This characteristic texture belongs to the Family Aristolochiaceae.  There are 4 species on the Osa Peninsula all belonging to the Genus Aristolochia.  They are unmistakable when in bloom as the flowers come directly from the side of the vine and stand erect like a Dutchman’s pipe which strangely enough is what they are called.

Aristolochia goudoti

The mottled purple blooms give off the scent of rotten meat which consequently attracts the attention of carrion flies.  The flies land expectantly on what they think will provide a good meal for their larvae.  The inner surface of the flower is slick so the inveigled fly slips down into the interior chamber of the bloom.  Backward pointing spines bar its escape so there the insect remains trapped.  Had it already suffered the same indignant experience it would be carrying the pollen from another bloom which is transferred effecting pollination.  The flower then wilts allowing the fly to go free carrying a fresh batch of its own pollen hoping that the fly can be duped yet again.  Following successful pollination then the fruit capsules are formed holding the seeds which are flat and wind dispersed.

Aristolochia goudoti fruit

Philip is a biologist, writer and photographer as well as the onsite naturalist guide at Bosque del Cabo Rainforest lodge on the Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Photo Feature

Figs for All

Another tree that can be seen producing fruit, although in this case there is no specific season, is one of the many species of Fig Tree, (Ficus spp).  Figs are an important food source not the least because within any one population of a fig species at least one individual will be fruiting at some point during the year.  They produce such a copious amount of fruit that they feed so many animals in the forest.

Ficus insipida

Tropical rain forests are generally found to be windless places.  For that reason the plants largely have to rely on animal agents for pollination and seed dispersal.  Due to the fact that there is such a high number of tree species within any given area, not only do the trees have to attract an animal to come to them but also then offer the animal a reward to stop it going to any other species of tree.  The figs have taken this to an absolute extreme.

Every species of fig tree has it own individual species of fig wasp, (Family Agaonidae), to pollinate it and there are approximately 800 different species of fig to be found worldwide. The fig is a synconium and inside each fig there are three types of flower; male flowers, female flowers and sterile flowers called gall flowers.  The gall flowers are the reward, which is where the female wasp will lay her eggs.  The first eggs to hatch are the wingless males.  They move around inside the fig looking for the as yet undeveloped females.  They find them and mate with them.  The male then bores a hole out of the fig and dies.

Later the female fig wasp emerges but her emergence coincides with the male flowers coming into season so as she travels around inside the fig she gets coated with pollen.  She makes her way out of the hole the males bored out and then she has to fly off to find a tree where the female flowers are in season.  This is achieved by following a pheromone trail released by the young fig.  The fig has an opening, the ostiole, which is lined with downward pointing scales that allow entry in one direction only, from the outside to the inside.  The female enters and loses her wings as she does so.  The pollen is transferred from her body to the female flowers thereby pollinating the fig.  The gall flowers are short stalked female flowers into which the ovipositor of the female wasp can reach to lay eggs.  Once she has finished transferring the pollen and laying her eggs, the female wasp dies.  Several weeks later the larvae that have developed within the gall flowers will emerge and the cycle will repeat.

The fig and the fig wasp have become mutually dependent on one another for their very existence.  Due to the fact that so many animals rely on the crop of figs that relationship produces it is known as one of the keystone dependencies of the forest.

One the fig has been pollinated it produces tiny seeds which the tree has to get through the guts of the animals eating them very quickly to stop the digestive juices breaking down the seed coat.  To aid in the rapid passage of the seeds through the alimentary canal of the animals eating them, the pulp of the fig contains a laxative.  But it has relied on large mobile animals such as birds, monkeys and bats that will have moved some distance from the parent tree before they defecate and disperse the seeds.

Sometimes the figs produce more fruit that even all the visiting animals can consume.  As you walk through the forest you may find yourself under a rain of falling figs, each one crashing through the underlying foliage before hitting the ground.  This benefits many ground living creatures such as peccaries, agoutis, pacas, opossums and rodents.  As the figs rot the heavy scent of fermenting fruit attracts in butterflies such as blue morphos which imbibe the liquor.  Ultimately the mould spores germinate and within a short space of time the fig will have become a fuzzy white ball of threadlike mould mycelium.

Ficus insipida

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 ins

Average Daily Rainfall 0.00 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 0.00 mm

Highest Daily Temp 90°F.  Lowest Daily Temp 74°F.

Highest Daily Temp 32.0°C.  Lowest Daily Temp 23.2°C.

Species List for the Week


  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Kinkajou
  • White-nosed Coati
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel


  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaw
  • Brown Pelican
  • Great Curassow
  • Crested Caracara
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Chestnut-backed Antbird
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Rufus Piha
  • Blue-crowned Motmot
  • Stripe-throated Hermit
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Dusky-capped Flycatcher
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Green Honeycreeper
  • House Wren
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture


  • Barred Ameiva
  • Basilisk
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Common Anole
  • Dwarf Boa
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Litter Skink
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Tiger Rat Snake


  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Marine Toad
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Rough-skinned Dirt Frog
  • Savage’s Thin-fingered Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog


  • Adelpha heraclera
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Battus belus
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Chlosyne theona
  • Consul fabius
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Glutophrissa drusilla
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Pierella helvina
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrisitia nise
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri


  • Alamandra  cathartica Flowering
  • Alpinia purpurata Flowering
  • Apeiba tibourbou Flowering
  • Arachis pintoi Flowering
  • Aristolochia gouldi Flowering and Fruiting
  • Arundina graminifolia Flowering
  • Attalea rostrata Fruiting
  • Bauhinia variegata Flowering
  • Cascabella thevetia Flowering and Fruiting
  • Citrus spp  Fruiting
  • Clusia rosea Flowering and Fruiting
  • Clusia vallerii Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cocos nucifera Flowering and Fruiting
  • Crestentia alata flowering and Fruiting
  • Costus speciosus Flowering
  • Couroupita guianensis Flowering and Fruiting
  • Dypsis lutescens Flowering and Fruiting
  • Etlingera elatior Flowering
  • Ficus citrifolia Fruiting
  • Ficus insipida Fruiting
  • Jacaranda mimosifolia Flowering
  • Heliconia chartacea Flowering
  • Heliconia latispatha Flowering
  • Heliconia pogonantha Flowering
  • Heliconia psittacorum Flowering
  • Heliconia rostrata Flowering
  • Hibiscus rosa-sinensis Flowering
  • Hymenaea coubaril Fruiting
  • Hymenocallis littoralis Flowering
  • Ixora coccinea Flowering
  • Lantana camara Flowering and Flowering
  • Lagerstroemia speciosa Fruiting
  • Morinda citrifolia Fruiting
  • Musa acuminate Flowering and Fruiting
  • Nephelium lappaceum Fruiting
  • Piper auritum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Piper nigrum Fruiting
  • Piper umbellatum Flowering and Fruiting
  • Pleiostachya pruinosa Flowering
  • Plumeria rubra Flowering
  • Psychotria sp Fruiting
  • Stachytarpheta frantzii Flowering
  • Virola guatemalensis Fruiting
  • Zammia sp Flowering



Bosque del Cabo December 2010 Nature Review   Leave a comment

Felipe del Bosque Blog Dec 2010 Review

December is that time of the year when the rain become less frequent, the sun shines more often and visitors start to arrive in numbers.  It also marks a transitional period for plant and animal activity and behavior.

As the weather changes and both the air and ground start to become drier, it marks the start of the flowering season for many of the trees.  The forests of Bosque are broadleaved evergreen forests.  In deciduous forests, as temperatures rise and day length increases, just before the trees leaf up again, the forest floor will be carpeted with a beautiful variety of spring flowering plants.  They are low growing and delicate.  The air will be filled with the various scents of many floral perfumes.

The tropical wet forests of Bosque are quite different.  As the trees are perpetually in leaf, little sunlight consequently hits the forest floor.  Those vegetative layers that lie beneath the canopy are scantily clad and flowers are not a common sight.  The spring flowers of a rainforest are the trees themselves along with the heavy load of epiphytic growth that they support in their upper branches.  Here you will find ferns, orchids, vines and surprisingly enough, cacti.

Tropical rainforest flowers tend to be large and strikingly bold in color, reds, oranges and yellows bringing the canopy into a fiery blaze whose glory can only be seen from above.  These colors attract birds and butterflies which the plants use as couriers, ferrying the pollen from the blossoms of one tree to another.  The tropics have another pollinator, one not found in temperate forests, nectar-feeding bats.  They prefer to feed on the nectar of pallidly colored and nauseatingly odiferous flowers.

Migrant birds are still found all around the grounds, particularly the Summer Tanager which can be seen and heard anywhere around the restaurant.  It doesn’t take too much effort to find some of the different warbler species that spend the majority of the dry season around the grounds.

Apart from the migrants, a myriad of other bird species can be observed on the grounds and in a variety of habitats in the localities surrounding Bosque.

Mammal activity varies little over the course of the year.  All 4 species of monkey will be seen on any of the trails, you choose one, walk, and you are bound to find something.  Peccaries, squirrels, armadillos, agoutis and coatis can usually be found on a morning’s walk.  With a little foreknowledge some of the bats species can be located and observed in their daytime roosts.

Amphibian activity has declined by now, but with a little patience, most of those species present in abundance in the wet season can still be found in the dry season.  Reptiles too, especially lizards will start to basking more frequently on the trails, feeding up in readiness for the breeding season.  It is now that the Central American Whiptails will start to develop the bright blue tails.

If you do come before the Christmas crowds start to arrive, or even if you do come over the holiday period, you will be guaranteed the grounds of Bosque del Cabo will provide you with some of the best wildlife experiences Costa Rica has to offer.  Here is a photographic log of some of the fauna and flora seen last December.

What can I say, more scorpion photos.  This is the other commonly found scorpion in the forests of Bosque, Centruroides bicolor.  They grow to about 5 or 6 inches from chelicerae to sting and they do pack a painful sting.  I have, in fact, been stung on several occasions by this species and survived.  The initial pain is intense but fades very quickly.

Here are two totally terrestrial frogs, Craugastor fitzingeri and Craugastor rugosus, both of which are found on the ground on the Bosque trail system.  These are two species of Rain Frog that have done away with the necessity to return to water to reproduce, rather laying but a few large yolk filled eggs in the leaf litter on the forest floor.  The complete development takes place within the egg and after several months a fully formed but copy of the adult emerges.

Craugastor rugosus

Butterfly numbers in December remain low but as with everything else, if you take the time, you will find them.  Skippers continue to provide a perennial problem in terms of identification but it is still fun to try and sneak up on them.  Some of my favorite butterflies are the Satyrs or browns.  One of the commonest butterflies on the grounds of Bosque is a small and almost imperceptible little satyr, Hermeuptychia hermes.  It is present 12 months of the year but is very small and flies no more than an inch or so above the ground, so its presence is probably missed by most people.  One of my favorite butterflies is the forest dwelling Pareuptychia ocirrhoe.  In the gloomy understory, a stroboscopic flicker of white reveals its whereabouts before it lands and the light and dark stripes on the underwing surfaces blend its form into the background and so it disappears from in front of your eyes.

Unidentified Skipper

Hermeuptychia hermes

Pareuptychia ocirrhoe

Green orchids, blue peas, purple passion vine and maroon Dutch pipes are just some of the less garish poster colors that subtly deck some of the December blooms.  Most of Costa Rica’s orchid species are epiphytic, growing high up in the canopy on the trunks and branches of trees.  This green bloomed species I found nearer the ground.  It flowered twice during the course of the year, December and again in September.  The peas were in flower most of the year in the open areas and roadsides.  There are several species of Passion Vine growing naturally at Bosque; the red bloomed Passiflora vitifolia, the square stemmed Passiflora quadrangularis and this, Passiflora ambigua.  When I came across the blooms they were spent and lying on the ground, but still had color and form interesting enough to photograph.

Green Orchid

Pea Plant

Passiflora ambigua

Dutchman's Pipe

Insects can be found all year round and in whichever location you care to concentrate.  Nobody really knows the numbers of insect species living in any given area.  I enjoy finding individuals of species that I have never seen before, and that occurs frequently, even with orders such as butterflies that I have studied more intensively.  This cockroach ranks amongst many similar species that I seen at Bosque as does the katydid but both elude identification.

Tropical Cockroach

Tropical Katydid

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming books:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

The Small World of Bosque del Cabo

The Colors of Bosque del Cabo

A Children’s Guide to Bosque del Cabo Rainforest Lodge

Temperature and Rainfall

Average M Temp High 84°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 72°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.63 ins.  Total Monthly Rainfall 19.48 ins

Average Daily Temp High 28.5°C.  Average Daily Temp Low 22.0°C.

Average Daily Rainfall 15.95 mm.  Total Monthly Rainfall 494.33 mm


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