Ruellia tolimensis

One quick look at this plant would send most to the name Ruellia potamophila. But you would be wrong if you did that. Look closer. Note the very gradual expansion of the narrow, unexpanded portion of the tube in this plant compared to the very abrupt expansion of the narrow, unexpanded portion tube to the expanded portion of the tube in Ruellia potamophila. Now do you see the difference? To say that beauty is in the details drastically underestimates the enormity of the task of taxonomists. Every detail counts. This is Ruellia tolimensis. Until now, known only from a single collection to my knowledge (that of the type). Note the slight curved nature of the tube in R. tolimensis. Even Leonard nailed that one in the protologue….

Ruellia tolimensis is an incredibly rare and undercollected species that is, so far as known, endemic to Colombia. I haven’t had the pleasure yet of introducing it to the sequencer, but when I do, I will be able to confirm its placement in the Physiruellia clade based on its seeds with trichomes restricted to the margins. I wasn’t able to lay eyes on the plant personally because I had to leave Colombia after one month in the field. Nico, Grant, and Manuel continued on without me, and they found this species just a few short days after my departure….

Wild collected, Colombia, Medina et al. #849 [COLO]; Photo by N. Medina

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