Trees of Monteverde, Costa Rica

William A. Haber

Electronic Field Guide Project,
University of Massachusetts- Boston

Tree Diversity

The region near Monteverde in the Cordillera de Tilarán of northern Costa Rica supports a complex array of montane forest habitats including seven different life zones. More than 750 species of trees belonging to 104 families occur in this area above 700 m elevation. Linked here are a number of electronic resources that can help identify the tree families of the area. In many cases, the keys reach the genus level.

Vegetative Key to Families of Trees and Shrubs

Using the software tools of the Electronic Field Guide Project of the University of Massachusetts at Boston, I developed a picture key to help identify the families of trees and shrubs from non-reproductive samples. In many instances, the key also arrives at the level of genus or small groups of similar genera. The key presents two visual representations of the data: an html version (viewable with any Internet browser) and a Java version (viewable with a browser, but requiring the Java 1.4.2 plugin).

Database of Family Pages

The family name at the end of a key couplet links to a taxon page for the family created dynamically from an associated database. The family page includes tips on field recognition, a diagnosis based on vegetative characters, and information on local distribution and diversity. The family database can be accessed from a search page view, a list view, or a thumbnail view.

Acknowledgements. The design of these tree keys was inspired by the family matrix system of Dr. Humberto Jiménez Saa, while I taught in his excellent Tropical Dendrology course in Costa Rica. See his course website for more information on his teaching method:


Copyright © 2001-2006 by William A. Haber,
Created: 28 December 2000. Updated: 20 February 2007.