Included here are the tropical lowlands and shores of Mexico and all other parts of Central America south of Mexico including Guatemala, Honduras, San Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and much of Panama.

Central American (Costa Rican) Swamp and River Forest

Good descriptions of these forests have again been compiled for the La Selva area of Costa Rica. They are mainly confined to wet areas adjacent to rivers and swampy valley bottoms. The swamp forests often flood after heavy rain to a depth of 20-30 cm, but the floodwaters rarely remain for more than a few days. As with Costa Rica’s dryer forests, the endemic Pentaclethra macroloba (Mimosoidaceae) is the dominant tree species, while other more characteristic canopy trees include Luehea seemannii, Otoba novogranatensis, Pachira aquatica and the endemic Carapa nicaraguensis (Meliaceae). A sub canopy can usually be distinguished, but few of these smaller trees, such as the endemic Pithecellobium valerioi (Fabaceae) are confined to swamps. The few more characteristic small trees include the endemic palm Astrocaryum alatum (Arecaceae) and the endemic dicot Chione costaricensis (Rubiaceae). Characteristic shrubs include the endemic Adelia triloba (Euphorbiaceae) and Psychotria chagrensis (Rubiaceae). River bank vegetation also includes a number of characteristic trees. Large trees such as Ficus insipida and Pithecellobium longifolium are typically found arching over rivers such as the Rio Puerta Viejo. Other tree such as Inga marginata, Nectandra reticulata, Posoqueria latifolia and the endemic Cordia lucidula (Boraginaceae) are more or less confined to these riparian habitats. Also characteristic of these riversides are various species more typically found at higher elevations. These include endemic shrubs like Acacia ruddiae (Fabaceae), Cardudovica rotundifolia (Cyclanthaceae), Piper friedrichsthalii (Piperaceae) and the endemic herb Cuphea utriculosa (Lythraceae).


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