A Volcanic Vaccinium in Costa Rica - Observation of the Week, 9/7/2021

Our Observation of the Week is this Vaccinium poasanum plant, seen in Costa Rica by @jorbogmont!

Currently living and working in the Washington, DC area, Jorge Bogantes Montero grew up in Costa Rica and was able to visit the country’s many different habitats and ecosystems. “For an ADHD nature loving boy,” he explains, “it was paradise! Those experiences in the great outdoors really shaped me and helped me become a biodiversity conservation professional.” After obtaining a degree in natural resources, he’s worked in the conservation field both in Costa Rica and the United States for the past nineteen years.

I started doing a lot of plant-related work in Costa Rica: vascular plant inventories, tree planting projects and such, but have always had a deep interest in wildlife too. I was into bird watching for a while, then mammals, herpetofauna, and freshwater fish. I have always looked for ways to get involved with and learn more about wildlife conservation. 

He photographed the plant you see above way back in 2003, when creating a plant inventory of Poás Volcano National Park. “Coincidentally this is the type locality for the species,” he explains.

The photo was taken within a stones throw of the mighty, and active, Poás Volcano (below, in 2003), in the forests of the national park. Vaccinium species (blueberries or heaths in English) are commonly known as “arrayanes” in Costa Rica. Some species are edible, but I don't recall them being a popular wild edible there. 

They grow only in the highlands and are a reminder of the biogeographical melting pot that the flora of Costa Rica is, being located in a geologically young land between two continents and two seas. I remember the foggy and chilly highland days looking for plants in the national park, occasionally smelling sulphur from the fumaroles or occasionally hearing sounds from the volcano. By sleeping in the park I had the chance to see the crater early in the morning before the tourists flocked. And in those years the crater used to have a beautiful bright green lake, a color it doesn't always have due to changes in chemistry and activity.

Jorge (above, in Costa Rica) works as a Natural Resources Specialist with the Anacostia Watershed Society and tells me that while he’s basically a generalist, he has become very interested in freshwater ecology due to his current work. One of his projects involves freshwater mussel propagation in the area. He uses iNat in his work, “organizing bioblitzes and documenting local biodiversity in the Anacostia River watershed in DC,” and to of course help him identify unfamiliar organisms and keep a life list of what he’s seen.

[iNaturalist] has changed my understanding of the natural world by helping me learn about that plant or critter I've always wanted to know what it is but didn't always have an easy way to discover it. I always recommend the app to people and have gotten some people to start using it.

- You can see some of the bioblitzes Jorge has helped organize at the Anacostia Watershed Society’s bioblitz page, and their ongoing project can be found here.

- Jorge discusses outreach in the Latinx community in this interview from 2012 and in this panel discussion from 2019. And here’s first person footage of a mussel survey he conducted.

- He was also interviewed for the Oyster Ninja podcast.

- Check out the most-faved Vaccinium observations on iNat here.

Posted on September 07, 2021 11:45 PM by tiwane tiwane


Fabulous work! And a great photo of a lovely plant!

Posted by susanhewitt over 1 year ago (Flag)

Wonderful foto!! Thanks for posting it. Interesting to see how the flowers open out & up. The V. ovalifolium we have here in Alaska don't open as much & tend to nod - face down. I bet berry picking from this plant is a LOT easier :)

Posted by abiabi over 1 year ago (Flag)

Congratulations 👏
It is certainly fascinating to find out for which organisms this great plant serves as the basis of life, I would like to hear more about that. As a child (it was a long time ago) and still today, I like to nibble on the great fruits of our "blueberries (https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/127029-Vaccinium-myrtillus)".
Many greetings from "Old Germany"
:-) Hans

Posted by gerstenhans over 1 year ago (Flag)

Fantastic find, and great work!

Posted by cesarcastillo over 1 year ago (Flag)

que planta mas bonita!

Posted by loarie over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great picture! I was amazed by Poas this past July. It is a beautiful park.

Posted by caleb_george over 1 year ago (Flag)

Like a bouquet in miniature. So pretty! It seems that Vaccinium species on the whole flourish in acidic soils. From bearberries in Iceland growing on the rim of volcanic craters to native blueberries growing in the mountains of North Carolina.

Posted by botanicaltreasures over 1 year ago (Flag)

ADHD? that means you're another person adding to the neurodiversity of iNat! :)

Posted by charlie over 1 year ago (Flag)


Posted by umby71 over 1 year ago (Flag)

Una observación impresionante y encantadora.

Posted by nelson_wisnik over 1 year ago (Flag)

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