Manual de Plantas de Costa Rica is a concise, illustrated guide to all of the species of native, naturalized, and commercially cultivated vascular plants of this Central American country, which lies between Nicaragua and Panama and is thus centered in isthmian Central America—a biogeographical funnel between South and North America, densely rich in species and geological history. The Manual is the first comprehensive Spanish-language account of the Costa Rican flora.
Solanaceae, with 180 species, is by far the largest family in this volume. Most of its species are herbs or shrubs, a few of them epiphytic or hemiepiphytic. The family contributes a great variety of well-known and popular food plants, including various species of Capsicum and several of Physalis, as well as Solanum lycopersicum, S. melongena, and S. tuberosum. And of course, in this context, and of enormous economic impact on a world scale, must be mentioned Nicotiana tabacum. With barely over half as many species, Sapindaceae is the second-ranked family in this volume. Comprising mostly vines, lianas, and trees, it also provides a number of economic plants, but the only one of considerable importance in Costa Rica is Nephelium lappaceum. Close behind, in third place, are the Urticaceae, with 88 species, most of them herbs or shrubs, but also a few trees. Numerous of its herbaceous species are at least sometimes epiphytic and some of its woody species are hemiepiphytic. This identification manual includes brief formal descriptions and informal notes about each of a total of 37 families, 193 genera, and 832 species. Keys to all the genera and species are also included. The treatments are illustrated with 210 line drawings, 37 black-and-white photographs, and eight pages of color plates.