Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New plant; first flea beetle record

Since I worked here in the 1970', researchers have named a new species of Passionflower Vine, Passiflora arbelaezii. Although I remember seeing it then, I was not sure it was a Passionflower.  Most Passionflowers have long, unbranched tendrils, filaments that grab the surrounding vegetation and by coiling, pull the plants higher up above the ground.  P. arbelaezii has thin, short tendrils that are branched into three smaller filaments, and these may even be sub-branched into three sets of three.  These tiny tendrils cling to almost anything, enabling this plant to climb up tree trunks as long as the surface is rough.  In the photo is my first record of a flea beetle using this plant species, in this case Monomacra chontalensis.  Although this is one of the less common species of flea beetle at La Selva, it makes sense that it was found on P. arbelaezii.  It's preferred host species is Passiflora biflora, the species that is physically most similar (and probably most closely related) to P. arbelaezii.

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