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Intern Spotlight: Rodolfo Flores Discovering New Plants at STRI

Posted on September 14, 2016 by in The OFI Blog


Collecting plants in Cerro Pirre, Darién province, Panamá

From January-May 2016, Rodolfo Flores interned at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in the project “Sampling of biodiversity under the responsibility of the STRI Herbarium” led by STRI’s Herbarium Director and resident botanist, Dr. Mireya Correa. The principal goal of the project and Rodolfo’s internship was to describe a new species of plant, named Eugenia veraguensis, belonging to the Myrtaceae family (Guava family), so far only known in the Gulf of Chiriquí in Veraguas, Panama. During this internship an expedition was conducted to the Audubon-El Chorogo Private Nature Reserve in Chiriquí, which resulted in two new records of plant species for Panama and possibly another new species to science in the Myrtaceae family. Rodolfo’s other internship objectives included the revision of botanical material deposited in the Summit Herbarium (SCZ) at STRI. Nearly 40 botanical specimens were identified, including a new species to science of Calyptranthes sp. nov. (Myrtaceae family), which will be published  soon in conjunction with one of the world’s leading authorities in this group, Bruce K. Holst of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Florida.

From Dolega, Chiriquí, Panamá, graduated with a B.S. in Biology from the University of Panama in 2013. From 2010 to 2015 Rodolfo worked in the project International Cooperative Biodiversity Groups (ICBG) of STRI together with  the Botanist Alicia Ibáñez. During this time they visited remote  and botanically unexplored  areas of Panama making numerous collections of  botanical specimens. In 2015 and 2016 he was trained in Classical Taxonomy in two renowned botanical gardens in the United States: Missouri Botanical Garden and Marie Selby Botanical Garden.

Papers on these discoveries were recently published in international journals together with collaborators, adding to Panama’s documentation of biodiversity, and essential for the conservation of species.

Flores R., A. Ibáñez  and M. D. Correa.  (2016). Eugenia veraguensis (Myrtaceae), a new species from Golfo de Chiriquí in Veraguas Province, Panama, with notes on Eugenia rhombea. Phytotaxa, 270-3: 217–222

Flores, R., E. Campos-P., M.D. Correa A., and W. Adsett. (2016). First records of Calathea vinosa (Marantaceae) and Dracontium pittieri (Araceae) from Panama. Phytoneuron 2016-51: 1–4.


Studying samples in SCZ Herbarium (STRI-Panamá)

Photo by Alicia Ibanez

Collecting plants in Escudo de Veraguas Island, Caribbean slope, Photo by Alicia Ibanez


Collecting plants with Gordon Mcpherson from MOBOT