Seed images from the Atlantic Slope of Costa Rica

THE SEEDS: Links on this page will take you to images of seeds from plants collected from the Atlantic slope of Costa Rica by Alice Boyle and several field assistants. (Thanks to Brad Boyle, Mary Burke, John Brokaw, Laura Cholodenko, Sean Cullen, Dick Repasky, Will Goulding, Melanie Hill, Cecilia Leumas, Juan Montoya-Morera, Heather Rieder, Pilar Sanchez, Jared Wolfe, and Andres Zambrano!). The plants these seeds were collected from grow from lowland forest at the base of the Central Volcanic Cordillera (~ 50m at La Selva Biological Station) up to ~1200m (in Braulio Carrillo National Park).  The majority of these plants range along the Atlantic slope of Central America and many extend into northern South America.  I collected May - July 2001 (500-800 masl), May - June 2002 (500-1200 masl), June - July 2002 (500-800 masl), Jan - Feb 2003 (30-700 masl), throughout the year in 2004 (30-800 masl), and June - July 2005 (30-800 masl). At each site I collected every fruiting plant I could find that looked as if it might possibly be bird-dispersed.  Identifications were made at INBio, Costa Rica with the help of many taxonomic experts.  Voucher specimens of almost all these plants were deposited at the Museo Nacional, INBio, University of Arizona (ARIZ), and the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Additionally, I have photographed all the seeds in the La Selva seed collection, created by various ecologists over the years.  Because the La Selva seed collection seeds are not linked to vouchered botanical collections, their indentifications should be treated with caution.  At present, the La Selva seed collection images have not been posted, but the species information can be accessed via the search engine on the next page.  The complete library of seed photos will be available soon.

THE IMAGES: To browse the seed images simply click on the link below for a page that displays links to each of the plant families represented by one or more seed images.  Choose the family you wish to browse and you will be directed to a page listing the available images.  By clicking on a file, a window will open with the photo.  Use the links below the image to either go back to the species list for that family or scroll through all images in the family in sequence.  Most files are labeled according to the following convention;  "Genus_species_AB###a".  The AB refers to me, the numbers following AB are my collection number. Use this information to search for more detailed collection information or updated taxonomy on the INBio (Atta) or MOBOT Tropicos databases.  The lowercase letter after the number refers to an individual photo.

These images were taken through the eyepiece of a 40x microscope using a Nikon Coolpix digital camera mounted on a tripod.  Some of the largest seeds were photographed without magnification.  I manually cropped and adjusted contrast on the majority of the images.  I usually took more than one photo of seeds from a particular plant.  Typically the "a"  (e.g., Guatteria aeruginos AB52a) photo has several seeds and a mm scale bar.  The subsequent images (i.e., same file name but followed by "b", "c" etc.) are at higher-magnification permitting examination of greater seed detail. Occaisonal photos lack the "AB" designation.  A few seeds came from plants not represented by a voucher specimen because I was confident with the field ID (usually I had collected that species before, but wasn't able to get good seeds).  These will just have the site (LS: 30-100 masl; RA:
500-900 masl; BC: 100-1200 masl) and the year.  Please note that most images are around 400-500 KB so if you are using a slow connection, they may take a while to load.

THE DATABASE: I have included a basic searchable database of information associated with these seeds.  Enter either the taxonomic or size parameters of the seed you wish to identify and the database will present you with a list of possibilities.  By clicking on any of the images, you will see not only the image itself, but data on the seed and fruit from which it was collected.  For most seeds the following information is available: seed length (mm), seed width (mm), fruit length (mm), fruit diameter (mm), fruit color, number of seeds/fruit (values > than 100 are estimates based on counts of subsections of the fruit), seed color, seed texture, and seed description.  I hope this feature will narrow the choices for those wishing to identify seeds in their own work. UPDATE June 2015: the search feature is not currently working, post-migration from the UA server to  If you would like to access the seed size & trait data, please email me. 
Please email me if you: (1) would like further information, (2) would be interested in contributing digital seed images you own, (3) would like to use these images in the context of your research or work, or (4) have interesting information on the dispersal of any of these plants. If you use these imagesin your work, please give reference this webpage and let me know about your work. Thanks!
Browse the photos

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All photos (c) Alice Boyle 2015
You are welcome to use any of these photos for educational or personal uses, but please contact me for permission to use commercially or as a source of data.
aboyle [at] ksu [dot] edu

Alice Boyle's Homepage
Many thanks to John Ruppel for automating the image formatting.  Sean Cullen and Sarah White assisted in the preparation and photography of many of these seeds.
 "This material is based upon wrk supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0410531.  Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of teh author and do no necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation."

updated June 2015