Archive for the ‘Nutmeg’ Tag

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.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

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

Mammals

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

Birds

  • 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

Reptiles

  • 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

Amphibians

  • 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

Butterflies

  • 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

Plants

  • 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

 

 

Milk Is Not the Solution   4 comments


Felipe del Bosque Blog April 24th 2011

The last few weeks have been so busy that it has been almost impossible for me to sit down and write up my daily nature diaries in the form of a blog.  Now, with spring break and Easter over, I should be able to get back to normal.  This blog is the summary of all that has happened in the natural world forming my immediate surroundings over the last three weeks and so the species lists and total rainfall figures may seem somewhat inflated compared with my recent weekly summaries.

Curious Cats and Kinkajous

Over the past three weeks, there have been several Puma, (Puma concolor), sightings at various locations around the grounds.  Leaving the hotel one night after work, the restaurant employees saw a young male Puma on the main driveway by Casa Miramar.  He stood in the middle of the road and then headed into the undergrowth and watched the departing staff from the safety of the dense low growing vegetation.  Some visitors saw a Puma on the Titi Trail and yet another one, or perhaps the same individual, was spotted in the Citrus Garden behind the restaurant.

Kinkajou, (Potos flavus), activity has started to increase; their noisy whistles and honks adding to the nightly rustlings in the trees above your head.  After dinner, if you hear the sound of something moving in the vegetation above you, and you then direct the beam of your flashlight upwards, invariably a curious Kinkajou will run down the branch to take a look before disappearing quickly into the tree tops again.

Several mammals tend to be seen following the sunset rather than during the day.  The commonest of these are the Nine-banded Armadillo, (Dasypus novemcinctus), and the Virginia Opossum, (Didelphis virginiana), both of which I regularly observe on nightly outings with people on the Sunset Tour or when undertaking my nocturnal amphibian counts.

One morning, a noise which I had heard on many previous instances, was coming from outside my cabin, an arrhythmic thump, thump thump.  I went outside to find the cause of the sound which I knew, in fact, would be a large caviomorph rodent, the Agouti, (Dasyprocta punctata).  When danger threatens, in the same fashion as frightened rabbits, the Agouti thumps its foot against the ground.  On most other occasions this has revealed, upon closer scrutiny of the area around the disturbed rodent, a snake, generally a Boa of greater or smaller dimensions.  This time I could not find the subject of the Agoutis consternation but I am sure it was going to be around somewhere.

After The Deluge

The past three weeks has experienced some of the first heavy downpours of the impending rainy season.  There were several nights when we were subjected to some early evening deluges.

Milky Frog

The resulting reaction to this saturating stimulus is an explosion in amphibian numbers, both in respect to individuals and species.  We had two particularly intense drenchings separated by a week or so.  Both occasions drew the same response, a huge number of Milky Frogs, (Trachycephala venulosus), which seemingly arrive from nowhere, their numbers been very limited on normal count nights.  Following the heavy rain, they appear in dozens, the surface of the pond hosting a dreadful cacophony of calling males whose sole intention is to quickly find a single available female with whom to mate.  Many of them obviously succeed because the following morning the pond and floating aquatic vegetation is covered with their small black eggs.

Most frog eggs in the tropics hatch after a period of about a week, but not so the Milky Frog.  Their eggs are remarkable in as much as they hatch within 24 hours, after which the pond will be filled with small black tadpoles.  Following a further 6 – 8 weeks, the newly metamorphosed golden green colored froglets emerge from the pond.

Last year we had the first time appearance of Olive Tree Frogs, (Scinax elaeochroa), at the pond.  Their presence was of brief duration, but enough to fox me for several nights with the new calls I could not recognize until seeing one out in the open calling with gusto.  Their temporary occupation of the pond must have been successful as I have just seen a juvenile in amongst all the other pond regulars.

Not long after the vocal manifestation of the Rain Frogs heralded the approaching rainy season, the first actual rains encouraged out of hiding for the first time in five months the nightly sound of little ringing metal bells, that particular sound created by the Tink Frog.  Noticeable by their absence during the dry period, we will now have seven months of dusk till dawn chiming, their calls infinitely preferable to the dreadful din of the Milky Frogs, which thankfully only occurs once or twice at the onset of the rains.  In Spanish the Tink Frog is known as the Martallito, the little metal hammer, because its call closely resembles the tinny ring of a small hammer hitting an anvil.

One other frog to emerge in rain induced numbers are the Banana Frogs which will now be present in greater or smaller numbers at least until December.

Mating Banana Frogs

Fading Beauty

The butterfly season is on the downturn now.  Most numbers of individuals and species occur throughout February and March.  The start of the rains can severely deplete numbers seen but extended periods of sun between the showers will see the numbers rise once again but not to the peaks of the dry season.

One thing that I will notice though is the frequency at which I will encounter a few species of butterfly that I will only see maybe once or twice during the course of the year.  It is always nice to renew this re-acquaintance as well as recording species that I have previously not monitored on the grounds of Bosque del Cabo.

The swirling and frenzied clouds of Green Urania Moths are now diminishing in numbers too.  They will have mated, laid eggs, the adults are dying and the resulting new offspring upon emergence will fly off is search  of new Omphalia vine hence continuing that verdant migration back and forward throughout Central America.

One particular moth has been capturing the attention of some of the visitors walking the trails if only for its initial shock value, the Bird Wing Moth, (Thysania agrippina).  When disturbed it vacates its perch on the side of a tree trunk, taking to flight some enormous floppy bat flying away from you down the forest path only to suddenly disappear from in front of your eyes as quickly as it appeared.  If you approach slowly, you will see the moth has alighted on the trunk of the tree, its wings aligned up to down, its body horizontal.  The wings are patterned with a series of wavy lines that look to all intents and purposes like the bark of the tree.  Only the visually acute will spot them in this position.

Broken Blossoms

There is a constantly changing flux of plants flowering and fruiting.  The recent blooms of Lady of the Night Orchid have momentarily faded.  Walking through the forest you will happen upon many fallen blooms and fruits from vines, trees and their associated epiphytes.

Minute white flowers of the Hobo or Hog Plum, (Spondias mombin), carpet the forest floor like confetti from a secretive woodland wedding ceremony.  The Legato Negro is also in flower, its blooms appear to a rich prize for the Leaf-cutter Ants which harvest them from the tops of the tree crown, descend and carry them over large distances, finally returning to the nest where they will be processed into compost along with any other plant material that enters the subterranean Attine domain.

In recent weeks I have seen the bases of Ajo trees, (Caryocar costaricense), littered with their fallen green fruits.  The fruits have an oily nutritious pulp that the rodents enjoy eating.  The presence of high rodent numbers can attract in another, less welcome by some, visitor to the base of the trees, snakes, in particular, the Terciopelo, (Bothrops asper).  These large pit vipers are ambush predators that sit and wait, sometimes for days on end, for a meal in the form of a small furry creature to pass by.  It is one reason why you should check the base of trees before complacently stepping in to have your photograph taken against some of the giant buttresses.

Two species of Nutmeg Trees have recently been producing the “Golden Fruits” that give the trees their name, Fruta Dorada.  The golden fruits are the hard shelled nuts that upon ripening and splitting reveal the seed that is the nutmeg and the bright red membranous aril that surrounds it.

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.

www.bosquedelcabo.com

 Photo Feature

The shorted and stuttered rain induced breeding frenzy of the Milky Frogs was witnessed by many of the visitors to Bosque, some of whom could not contain their curiosity and simply had to go and investigate what was causing the unfaltering ruckus they were hearing over the course of their dinner.  For one young boy the effect was overwhelming, reducing him to tears, seriously disturbed by a sight he, (as far as he is concerned), hopefully will never witness again.

Milky Frog

It is almost impossible for me to give the spoken part of the Sunset Tour over the top of such a din, and I often have to retire to the quieter confines of the garage across the road before I can make myself heard.

Milky Frogs are the largest of the Costa Rican Tree Frogs.  They are sometimes referred to as Marbled Tree Frogs because of the handsome mottled browns and beige of the body color.  As documented above it is an explosive breeder.  I only count it in small numbers, if at all around the pond, but they are obviously there because as I have mentioned, with the first torrential rain, they come out in force, up to 50 or 60 individuals.  It is another frog that has the ability to glide from the tree tops to ground level using widely spread and heavily webbed fingers and toes.  This allows the frog to take advantage of perfect breeding conditions very rapidly.  Significantly other frogs such as the Smoky Jungle Frog were present in much smaller numbers than normal while the one off Milky Frog invasion occurred.  The males grab anything that moves and I think that overzealous behavior may have kept other amphibians at bay.

Milky Frog

When disturbed, the Milky Frog gives off from glands in its skin, a thick white secretion that can prove to be highly irritating especially if making contact with mucus membranes such as mouth, nose and eyes.  In fact it can cause temporary blindness.

It occurred to me that I should go along after dinner and photograph the event.  So after I finished up in the office, I returned to the pond at 11:00 pm.  Just as I arrived, an incredible thing happened, as one all of the frogs stopped calling.  It was so simultaneous that it seemed like an off switch had been hit.  Not only that, but as I tried to compose some exposures, the frogs made a mass exit from the water and ran up the side of the trees like small mice on amphetamine sulphate.  Within a matter of minutes the pond have had been vacated with the same alarming rapidity with which it was occupied only a few hours earlier.

Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Spawning     Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Spawn     Red-eyed Green Tree Frog Spawn

It was while I stood marveling at the truly amazing scene unfolding in front of my eyes that I noticed a pair of amplected Red-eyed Green Tree Frogs that had made their way, despite their boisterous co-inhabitants, under a low lying leaf and they were beginning to lay eggs.  I couldn’t quite get in at a good angle to record the event but managed to get at least several shots.

Text and Photographs are taken from the forthcoming book:

The Natural History of Bosque del Cabo by Philip Davison

Temperature and Rainfall

Average Daily Temp High 86°F.  Average Daily Temp Low 74°F.

Average Daily Rainfall 0.32 ins.  Total Weekly Rainfall 6.73 ins

Average Daily Temp High 31.2 °C.  Average Daily Temp Low 23.0 °C.

Average Daily Rainfall 7.9 mm.  Total Weekly Rainfall 166.4 mm

Species List for the Week

Mammals

  • Howler Monkey
  • Spider Monkey
  • White-faced Monkey
  • Central American Squirrel Monkey
  • Alfaro’s Pygmy Squirrel
  • Red-tailed Squirrel
  • Agouti
  • Nine-banded Armadillo
  • Kinkajou
  • Tayra
  • Puma
  • Collared Peccaries

Birds

  • Orange-chinned Parakeet
  • Red-lored Amazon
  • Scarlet Macaws
  • Grey-necked Woodrail
  • Great Currasow
  • Pale-billed Woodpecker
  • Crested Caracara
  • Laughing Falcon
  • Mangrove Black Hawk
  • Roadside Hawk
  • White Hawk
  • Magnificent Frigatebird
  • Stripe-throated Hummingbird
  • Wedge-billed Woodcreeper
  • Chestnut-backed Antbirds
  • Black-hooded Antshrike
  • Common Paureque
  • Spectacled Owls
  • Rufus Piha
  • Short-billed Pigeon
  • White-tipped Dove
  • Blue-crowned Manakin
  • Red-capped Manakin
  • Chestnut-mandibled Toucan
  • Fiery-billed Aracari
  • Cherrie’s Tanager
  • Grey-headed Tanager
  • Bright-rumped Atilla
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Masked Tityra
  • Great Tinamou
  • Black-throated Trogon
  • Slaty-tailed Trogon
  • Black Vulture
  • King Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture

Reptiles

  • Barred Ameiva
  • Four-lined Ameiva
  • Central American Whiptail
  • Green Iguana
  • Golfo Dulce Anolis
  • Central American Smooth Gecko
  • Clawless Gecko
  • Mediterranean House Gecko
  • Boa constrictor
  • Cat-eyed Snake
  • Litter Snake
  • Salmon-bellied Racer
  • Terciopelo
  • Tropical Bird-eating Snake

Amphibians

  • Marine Toad
  • Red-eyed Green Tree Frog
  • Banana Frog
  • Masked Smilisca
  • Milky Frog
  • Smokey Jungle Frog
  • Black and Green Poison Arrow Frog
  • Golfo Dulce Poison Arrow Frog
  • Fitzinger’s Rain Frog
  • Stejneger’s Dirt Frog
  • Tink Frog

Butterflies

  • Adelpha cytherea
  • Adelpha heraclera
  • Adelpha serpa
  • Aeria euromedia
  • Anartia Fatima
  • Anartia jatrophae
  • Anastrus naearis
  • Anatrytone potosiensis
  • Anthoptus Epictetus
  • Antirrhea philoctetes
  • Arawacus lincoides
  • Archaeoprepona demophon
  • Astraptes egregious
  • Astraptes fulgerator
  • Battus polydamus
  • Caligo eurilochus
  • Callicore lyca
  • Callimormus radiola
  • Calycopis isobeon
  • Catonephele numilia
  • Cissia confusa
  • Colobura dirce
  • Copaeodes minima
  • Dione juno
  • Dryas iulia
  • Eueides aliphera
  • Eueides lybia
  • Euphyes vestris
  • Eurema albula
  • Eurema daira
  • Glutophrissa Drusilla
  • Heliconius cydno
  • Heliconius erato
  • Heliconius hecale
  • Heliconius ismenius
  • Heliconius sapho
  • Heraclides cresphontes
  • Hermeuptychia hermes
  • Hyalyris excelsa
  • Junonia everete
  • Laparus doris
  • Magneuptychia libye
  • Marpesia berania
  • Mechanitis lysimnia
  • Mechanitis polymnia
  • Melinaea scylax
  • Mesosemia zonalis
  • Metacharis victrix
  • Morpho helenor
  • Morpho Menelaus
  • Morys valerius
  • Nastra Julia
  • Panoquina evansi
  • Pareuptychia ocirrhoe
  • Parides erithalion
  • Philaethria dido
  • Phoebis agarithe
  • Phoebis argante
  • Phoebis sennae
  • Pierella luna
  • Polites vibex
  • Pompeius pompeius
  • Pseudolycaena damo
  • Pyrgus oileus
  • Pyrrhogyra crameri
  • Quasimellena balsa
  • Rhetus arcius
  • Saliana fusta
  • Siproeta stelenes
  • Temenis laothoe
  • Tigridia acesta
  • Urbanus proteus
  • Urbanus simplicius
  • Urbanus tanna

 Plants

  • Almendra Fruiting
  • Balsa Fruiting
  • Barrigón Fruiting
  • Black Alligator Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Cashew Flowering and Fruiting
  • Calabash flowering and fruiting
  • Clusia Vine Fruiting
  • Monkey Comb Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Garlic Tree Fruiting
  • Candlestick Plant Flowering.
  • Cannonball Tree Fruiting
  • Figs Fruiting
  • Guanacaste Tree Fruiting
  • Gustavia Flowering
  • Hog Plum Flowering
  • Inga Fruiting
  • Lady of the Night Orchid Flowering
  • May Tree Flowering
  • Manglillo Fruiting
  • Nutmeg Fruiting
  • Passion Vine Flowering
  • Pochote Tree Flowering
  • Psychotria Fruiting
  • Rubber Tree Flowering and Fruiting
  • Santa Maria Flowering
  • Sombrerito Fruiting
  • Stinky Toe Fruiting
  • Ylang ylang Flowering

A COCKTAIL OF FOREST FRUIT   Leave a comment


Today was more or less a repeat performance of yesterday, the weather being overcast, grey and drizzling.  There was a slight break in the clouds just after breakfast so I could get out and have a look at the various birds that might be around.  Not surprisingly it was the usual players in this daily performance.  Flocks of Golden-hooded Tanagers, colorful and busy, moving from tree to tree, only stopping long enough to sample the fayre on offer, mostly figs.  Bay-headed Tanagers, also feeding on fruit, mixing company with Green Honeycreepers, a male and female of which were taking insects from around the Lantana bush.  Here too, a Mourning Warbler and a Southern Beardless Tyrannulet spent time gleaning for insect prey from among the vegetation.

One brazen male Coati would not give ground as I approached.  He was too preoccupied with extracting the last remaining scraps of coconut flesh from an opened shell left behind by the Capuchin Monkeys that passed this way two days ago.  With one paw resting on top of the fallen coconut holding it steady, his other arm was buried up to the elbow inside in an endeavor to scrape out every last shred of that tasty treat which he then eagerly licked from his paw.

Around the pond, were two ever present species of dragonflies, the smaller blue Micrathyria ocellata and the larger deep red Libellula herculea, hawking for insect prey.  One moment resting on a perch above the water and the next moment gone, hovering a foot from the water surface, those huge multifaceted compound eyes having spotted the movement of some small insect.  One female Libellula herculea was constantly dipping her rear end into the water, each time dropping an egg, her male consort in close attendance, hovering beside her, possibly to protect her from the harassment of rival males.

And then down came the rain.

One thing rain does, it “cools” the look of the forest, and it brings out the greens. Green is not just green; there are fresh lime greens ranging through to dark bottle greens with every other shade in between.  Each and every one of these verdant shades seem to be brought to the fore with the addition of rainwater.  Another thing the rain does is soften the ground.  Although it may be difficult to see animals in the forest, you may otherwise be aware of their presence by tracks and sounds.  Many mammals have very distinctive vocalizations, each species of bird has a characteristic call, the sound of the wing beats, the way things move through the treetops and the undergrowth, the sound of squirrels or agoutis as they gnaw through the tough shells of the nuts on which they feed.  There is the constant hissing and chirping of the insects and the mating calls of male amphibians.  Your ears play a large part of the experience beneath a forest canopy, sometimes you will hear far more than you will ever see.

While I was out today, I could tell what had gone before me by the tracks in the soft earth.  There was a small herd of Collared Peccary that had passed by not long before, three or four, judging by the fresh cloven hoofed tracks in the ground.  An agouti too had only just passed by, possibly it heard me coming and trotted off to hide somewhere amongst the tree roots.

There are no climatic constraints on vegetative growth in a tropical rainforest, the plants have heat, light and water in optimum quantities, so vegetation grows at a rate unprecedented anywhere else on earth. However, because the Osa Peninsula is not strictly an area of rainforest but rather a seasonal forest, where there are five dry months out of the annual twelve, we experience two seasons; wet and dry.  The dry season normally lasts from December until the end of April and the wet season commences in May through November.

The trees in these seasonal forests are broad leaved evergreens.  The leaves will last about a year and be shed off, not all at once as in a deciduous forest, but rather gradually over an extended period of time.  Leaf fall tends to happen towards the end of the dry season.  The trees then replace leaf in a flush, producing many new leaves at once and synchronizing new leaf production with other trees, so as to provide more new tissue than any herbivores could consume in a short space of time.

Flowering too, tends to occur as we move into the dry season, typically around December into February.  But there are exceptions to this, with different trees flowering at different times of the year and some trees not just flowering once but several times or even continually throughout the year.

Forest Fruit Cocktail

Rainforest plants.  Nutmeg.  Myristicaceae.  Virola koschnyi

Ripe Golden Fruit showing nutmeg seed covered with the aril

Sometime around June and July, at various places on the forest floor you will come across small, almost almond looking fruits.  These are the fruta dorada, or golden fruits produced by one of three species of Nutmeg Trees, (Virola spp), to be found in the forests around Bosque del Cabo.  When the fruit first falls to the ground it is entire, but after a short period of time it will start to dry out and split apart.  As they do, a bright flash of red is revealed.  The color is provided by a membrane, the aril, which covers the seed, the nutmeg.  Birds having acute color vision will see red a long way off in the forest.  Fruit eating birds like toucans will fly in and consume the seed and aril together.  The aril is very tasty and nutritious.  The bird digests the aril but now is left with a crop full of large heavy seeds which is not a condition conducive to flight, so the bird regurgitates the seed, thereby effecting seed dispersal for the plant.  The nutmegs we use in our kitchens are imported from Indonesia.  Dried and ground, the seed gives the spice nutmeg, the aril dried and ground gives the spice mace.

Rainforest vines.  Clusiaceae.  Clusia valerii.

Don’t assume the fruit on the forest floor fell from the tree it is under. This is the fruit of a vine atop a tree, (Clusia valerii)

There are numerous species of trees, shrubs and vines that belong to the family Clusiaceae.  This is the fruit of one of the vines (Clusia valerii), really an epiphytic shrub, which we find at Bosque.  They germinate at the top of a tree and throw down roots which eventually resemble large wooden cables.  The fruit is very easy to identify being an off-white egg shape which when ripe, splits like the nutmeg, but this time into five segments which once again reveals those orangey red aril covered seeds.

Monkey Comb Tree.  Malvaceae.  Apeiba tibourbou.  Osa Peninsula.  Costa Rica.

Monkey Comb – the fruit of Apeiba tibourbou

 

For most of the year visitors to Bosque will find lying on the forest floor these strange little fruits that you could swear were misplaced sea urchins.  Closer examination will reveal they are of vegetative and not animal origin.  Monkey combs come from the tree Apeiba tibourbou, or the Monkey Comb Tree.  The fruits are spiny flattened globes, initially green but later ripening to brown.  They are fairly ubiquitous, found lying on the paths of all the trails.  The fruit derives its name from an imagined, but false, notion that the monkeys will use them to groom their fur.

Rainforest fruits.  Figs.  Moraceae.  Ficus insipida.  Decomposition.  Mold.

After only a few days, a fallen fig will be covered in mold

Just about everyone knows exactly what a fig is.  There are in the region of 750 species of fig around the world.  The area around the Osa Peninsula boasts 23 species.  The fig itself is a synconium, a fleshy receptacle housing the flowers and later the fertile seeds.  Fig trees are so important in the forest because at any time during the year at least one tree in a population will be fruiting.  They provide such a copious amount of fruit which subsequently feeds so much of the animal life in the forest.  Sometimes the food supply is so wholly over adequate that the ground will then become covered with the now overripe uneaten figs which rapidly become covered with thread mould and finally they rot to a mush.

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