With Phlegmariurus pithyoides in Parque Montecristo, on the El Salvador/Guatemala/Honduras border
Four months and eight countries, all by bus (except for flight over the Darien Gap)! I was fortunate enough to work in herbaria and make field collections with local colaborators all along the way - a really great trip.
A few highlights:
-Walking along Holcomb's Trail in Provincia de Chiriqui, Panama. This trail, which runs over the pacific versant of the Talamancan cordillera, was an important collecting locality for early 20th century botanists, including Ellsworth Killip, Alice Cornman, and William Maxon.
-With some luck, I found Phlegmariurus brevifolius atop Cerro Chirripo, the tallest peak in Costa Rica. This species is widespread in the northern Andes, but is extremely rare in Costa Rica, where it reaches the northern limit of its distribution.
-Finding Diplazium x verapax on Volcan Maderas in Nicaragua. This taxon had been treated as a valid species, but its irregular leaf lobing suggested to me that it was more likely a hybrid. This lead to additional study that lead to the publication of a fun paper in Brittonia.
-I got the chance to reunite with a good friend and excellent botanist in El Salvador, and he gave me a wonderful tour of the country. I got to see three species of Phlegmariurus in the field that I otherwise had only known from herbarium specimens.
- I slept at the summit of the highest peak in Central America, Guatemala's Volcan Tajumulco (4220 m) and got to collect some phenomenal plants there. This mountain, along with nearby Volcan Tacana, are far-northern hotspots for plant species otherwise restricted to alpine habitats in southern Central America and the Andes. Haven't hiked this before? Do it, but bring warm gear!
Phlegmariurus brevifolius, Cerro Chirripo, Costa Rica