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HARVARD COSTA RICA EXPEDITION ADDS TO PLANT COLLECTIONS

1600 SPECIMENS SECURED FOR HERBARIUM

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

(Editor's Note: In September 1929 Dr. C. W. Dodge, Curator of the Farlow Herbarium, and W. S. Thomas '32 reached Costa Rica to begin the work of the 1929-30 Harvard Costa Rica Expedition. The following article, reviewing the work of four months, was written for the Crimson exclusively by Thomas.)

San Jose, Costa Rica, Jan. 1--With one half of its collecting completed, the Harvard Costa Rica Expedition, 1929-30, looks forward to still more extensive field work, Long has the Central American republic of Costa Rica been a paradise for scientific exploration. Its volcanic peaks, dense jungles and fertile plains continue to be a goal for a variety of naturalists, both from Europe and the United States. Because of the diversity of its geography, with temperate conditions in the highlands, and those typically tropical in the coastal lowlands, it has yielded a wealth of new plant and animal species. Botanists, visiting Central America in times past., laid stress on the higher plants or phanerogams, obviously attractive. As a result, there has been comparatively little study of those lower forms of the plant world, the cryptogams, which form a most important and numerous host.

On September 5, 1929, Dr. Carroll W. Dodge, Curator of the Farlow Herbarium and assistant professor of Botany, arrived in Costa Rica with the purpose of making thorough collections of the lichens and fungi. Late in September W. S. Thomas '32 joined Dr. Dodge as his general assistant. Headquarters were established in San Jose. Costa Rica's capital in the coffee-growing highlands. From there, the expedition has radiated into the surrounding country on field trips of varying length, which the courtesy of landowners has made possible. Early in October interesting collections were made in Pejivalle in Cartago Province, an upland, jungle section on the Atlantic slope. Two weeks at Santiago de Cartago gave opportunity for many finds from the lower portions of the volcano. Turrialba, and the deeply-forested canon of the Rio Reventazon.

Stay on Volcanic Peak

Perhaps the most fruitful and intensive work was accomplished in a three weeks stay high on Mt. Irazu, most noted volcanic peak in the country. Here at an altitude of from 7000 to 9000 feet above sea level in a region of oak forests, open pastures, and deep gorges, the rainy season offered unusual collecting. Among many other things, the return represented 200 species of fleshy fungi, popularly speaking, mushrooms and toadstools, which are totally new to science. During early December a profitable sojourn was made at the Research Station of the United Fruit Co. at Siquirres in the hot lowlands. Daily trips into the jungle yielded many species of varying plant types, and presented conditions strikingly at variance to those of the highlands. Recently, a three hour horse-back ride from a point outside of San Jose took the party to particularly abundant collecting grounds on Los Cerros de Zurqui. These three, small peaks, to the east of Mt. Barba, offer fine panoramas of the great Central Valley, a thousand feet below: Despite limited time, quantities of specimens, especially rich in lichen material, rewarded the efforts of the collectors.

To date 1600 plant varieties have been collected, besides a large amount of duplicates. The Farlow Herbarium with its already large collections, will chiefly benefit by these, as well as the Gray Herbarium and the Arnold Arboretum. In addition, much material will be available for exchange with other universities and museums, on both sides of the Atlantic. But more than the mere specimens, science will gain new knowledge of habits of growth, distribution, and other factors. It is expected the results of the expedition will provide a basis for several publications on taxonomy and ecology of the cryptogams

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