Top Ten Lists

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Students new to tropical biology will not know which families, genera, or species of plants they will be most likely to encounter in the forest. These lists are intended to help shed light on these mysteries. The lists are taken from Hartshorn & Hammel (1994) “Vegetation Types and Floristic Patterns” in McDade et al eds La Selva: Ecology and Natural History of a Neotropical Rain Forest. The data were generated largely from long-term monitoring by Gary Hartshorn and colleagues of permanent plots located in several locations at the La Selva forest.

Top Ten Lists are provided for Flowering Plant Families, Genera, Trees, and Primary Forest.

Top Ten Families – Flowering plant families containing the most species.

Family Species
Orchidaceae 114
Araceae 99
Rubiaceae 99
Fabaceae 80
Melastomataceae 77
Piperaceae 64
Poaceae 63
Asteraceae 48
Euphorbiaceae 42
Moraceae 31

Top Ten Genera – Flowering plant genera containing the most species

Genus Species
Piper (Piperaceae) 44
Psychotria (Rubiaceae) 39
Philodendron (Araceae) 33
Anthurium (Araceae) 25
Miconia (Melastomataceae) 25
Inga (Fabaceae: Mimosoideae) 19
Ficus (Moraceae) 17
Peperomia (Piperaceae) 17
Calathea (Marantaceae) 16
Epidendrum (Orchidaceae) 15

Top Ten Tree Families – Families containing the most number of tree species.

Family Species
Fabaceae 41
Lauraceae 24
Rubiaceae 22
Euphorbiaceae 18
Annonaceae 16
Mestomataceae 15
Arecaceae 13
Moraceae 13
Meliaceae 10
Sapotaceae 9

Primary Forest Trees - The three major primary forest landscapes at La Selva are rolling terrain (on residual soils formed by erosion of volcanic rock), old terrace (on alluvial soils deposited long ago on the floodplains of the major rivers), and swamp.

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