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Flores y Plantas: Fruitful Research Blossoms at STRI!

Posted on Feb 2, 2016 by in The OFI Blog |


Calathea Galdamesiana received its name after Carmen Galdames, STRI Herbarium Assistant (left), who has been a long-time mentor and inspiration to Rodolfo Flores (right)

Rodolfo Flores, a young botanist from Panama, has been collaborating with the research team of Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) since 2010. As an intern for the current project dedicated to the exploration of Panamanian biodiversity Flores made a discovery which is SERIOUSLY AMAZING.

Meet Calathea galdamesiana, a new endemic species, of Marantaceae family, which the young scholar encountered during his fieldwork in Santa Fe National Park. The plants of Calathea Lutea family are characterized by the large, oval-shaped leaves, which are used extensively in Central American cuisine, often as wrappers in traditional food like tamales and juanes. What makes the plant unique is a special flower-bearing structure which extends right from the underground stem (rhizome).


“Calathea galdamesiana” (Photo by Rodolfo Flores / Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute)

Flores’ objectives in the project included identifying, creating taxonomical descriptions and inventories of the botanical species as part of STRI’s Nagoya Protocol Project and the Panamanian Ministry of the Environment’s Mesoamerican Biological Corridor Project. Prior to joining STRI the young scholar had been gaining extensive knowledge of the rich Mesoamerican flora traveling and collecting species in environments ranging from the lowland areas in the Carribean and Pacific to mountain forests. “Since childhood I have been fascinated by nature and have been driven to reveal its mysteries”, Flores says.

Learn more about this seriously amazing discovery here!