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Project Name Data (Last Modified On 12/18/2012)
 

Flora Data (Last Modified On 12/18/2012)
Genus COUROUPITA Aubl.
PlaceOfPublication Hist. P1. Guian. 708. 1775.
Synonym Pontopidiana Scop. Introd. 195. 1777. Elsholtzia Neck. Elem. 2:2 5 6. 1790. Pekea Juss. Gen. 249. 1798, pro parte.
Description Trees of moderate to gigantic size, the leafy twigs ordinarily stout. Leaves crowded toward the tips of the twigs, shortly petiolate, broadly obovate-cuneate and rather small for the family, entire to serrulate. Flowers in extensive sub- terminal to cauliflorous racemes and panicles. Hypanthium broadly obovoid. Calyx deeply 6-lobed, inconspicuous in fruit. Petals 6, more or less unequal, white more or less suffused with red. Androphore strongly bilaterally symmetrical, wholly fertile, produced into a prominent simply involute posterior hood, the stamens of the hood somewhat larger and with longer filaments than those of the central disc; anthers very small and ovoid, dehiscing longitudinally. Ovary 6- celled, containing numerous lateral anatropous ovules; stigma sessile, 6-radiate, inserted on a prominent round disc. Fruit a large globose indehiscent coriaceous berry, the seeds several, compressed, of moderate size, immersed in fetid pulp, the embryo differentiated and with fleshy cotyledons.
Habit Trees
Distribution About 19 species according to Knuth, extending from Nicaragua to Amazonian Peru and Brazil and in Jamaica and the Lesser Antilles.
Note Couroupita guianensis Aubl., known in English as Cannon-ball Tree, is occasionally cultivated in tropical parks and gardens. The handsome, usually reddish flowers vary from 3 to 9 cm. in diameter, and the large globular fruits may be 2 dm. in diameter. In prefacing his account of the Couroupitas of Central America Pittier wrote, "tOwing to the scarcity of the cannon-ball trees, it has been found difficult to obtain satisfactory specimens. For this reason the three following species are incompletely described." Knuth, although presenting detailed descriptions, generates even less confidence by his key to the species of Central America
Common Cannon-ball Tree
Key B. Species centrali-americanae. a. Nicaragua; Costarica: flos ad 7 cm diam....... 15. C. nicaraguensis b. Panama. 1. Flos 8-9 cm diam............................ 16. C. Cutteri 2. Flos 7-8 cm diam .......................... 17. C. darienensis 3. Flos 4-5 cm diam ...........................18. C. odoratissima 4. Flos 3 cm diam...............................19. C. parviflora
Note In his key to the three Central American species recognized by him, Pittier distinguishes C. odoratissirna Seem. as a "low spreading savanna tree, branched almost from the base" and C. nicaraguensis DC. and C. darienensis Pittier as "high forest trees"; yet Seemann assigns a height of 60-80 feet to the type trees of C. odoratissima. Courou pita cutteri Morton & Skutch and C. parviflora Standl. both are reported only through single collections in the immediate vicinity of the Chiriqui Lagoon. Since a total of only three herbarium specimens is available for our study at present, it appears quite impossible to treat the species in the usual way since the leaves are nearly, if not quite, identical and the dimensions of the flowers analysed by Knuth present a continuum (the flowers of the type specimen of C. parviflora obviously are not fully expanded).
Specimen BOCAS DEL TORO: 15 mi. from Almirante, Skutch i9 (type of C. cutteri in U. S. Nat. Herb.); Changuinola valley, Cooper d Slater II (type of C. parviflora in U. S. Nat. Herb.). DARIEN: forests around Pinogana, Pittier 6563 (type of C. darienensis in U. S. Nat. Herb.).
Note The type specimen of C. odoratissima was collected by Seemann in the forests of Rio de Jesu's, between Santiago and Puerto Mutis, Veraguas. According to Pittier, the species since has been seen by Dr. Otto Lutz in forests of Hato de San Juan, between San Lorenzo and San Felix, eastern Chiriqui, but the photograph to which he refers is not included in the U. S. National Herbarium. An adequate herbarium representation of Couroupita is one of the outstanding desiderata for a complete Flora of Panama. Seemann was informed by local resi- dents that C. odoratissima was to be found only in a small area at the type locality. Failure of recent collectors to find more ample material suggests that the species, one or several, must be extremely local and infrequent.
 
 
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