200 Years. 200 Stories. Story
157: “Monnina in Ecuador
Alina Freire-Fierro stands next to a specimen of Monnina phillyreoides in Ecuador.
Monnina in Ecuador
Botany Collection Manger Alina Freire-Fierro studies the origin and diversification of the plant genus Monnina, which grows from the southern United States to Chile. Here she poses with Monnina phillyreoides (Bonpl.) B. Eriksen in the cloud forest of northern Ecuador. This “treelet” is the most common species of Monnina in Ecuador, where about 40 of the genus’ 200 species grow. The plant genus can grow at many elevations and in areas as diverse as rainforests to rocky outcrops. It flourishes in areas disturbed by human activity. Here it is seen growing in front of a potato field.
Freire-Fierro traveled to Ecuador to take samples and gather information about habitats. Examining the plant’s DNA in combination with its morphology, or physical characteristics such as leaf shapes, flowers, and fruits, helps us understand the evolution of these characteristics and find differences between species.
Learn more about our botanists.