Taxon Details: Cariniana legalis (Mart.) Kuntze
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Lecythidaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Cariniana legalis (Mart.) Kuntze
Primary Citation:

Revis. Gen. Pl. 3(2): 89. 1898
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.

Author: Scott A. Mori, Ghillean T. Prance, & Nathan P. Smith

Type: Same as for Couratari legalis Mart.

Description: Canopy to emergent trees, to 60 m tall, the trunk cylindric, often with very low, long, spreading buttresses. Bark vertically fissured, the outer bark as thick or thicker than the inner bark, the inner bark reddish. Stems when young, sparsely lenticellate. Leaves: petioles 3.0-5.0 mm long, the upper portion winged; blades elliptic, 4-8.5 x 2-3 cm, the base cuneate, decurrent onto petiole, the decurrent part revolute in both fresh and dired leaves , the margins weakly serrate-crenulate, with 13-25 teeth on each side, the apex acuminate, the acumen 1-5 mm long; midrib prominulous adaxially, prominent, glabrous abaxially, the secondary veins in 9-11 pairs, without domatia at junction with midrib, prominulous on both surfaces. Inflorescences ramiflorous or infrequently axillary, usually racemes or less frequently sparsely branched paniculate arrangements of racemes, the rachises puberulous; pedicels 0.5-1 mm long, sparsely puberulous. Flowers 4-6 mm diam.; calyx-lobes obscure, 0.8-1 mm long, sparsely puberulous abaxially; petals oblong-ovate, ca 4 mm long, white, the inside sometimes reported to be red; androecium prolonged on one side to form slightly developed ligule, ca. 3 mm diam. at base, the stamens ca 50, mostly attached toward apex, with a few free filaments arising from base, the anthers yellow; style very short. Fruits 4.5-6.5 x 1.5-3 cm, the calycine ring indistinct, 0.4-0.8 cm below apex, the pericarp 2-3 mm thick at apex, the opercular rim not toothed, the operculum 1-1.5 cm diam.

Common names: Brazil: Most commonly known as caixão, congolo-de-porco, estopa, jequitibá, jequitibá-branca, jequitibá-cedro, jequitibá-grande, jequitibá-rosa, jequitibá-vermelho, pau-caixão, and pau-carga (Lorenzi, 1992; Mori & Prance, 1893; Prance in Prance & Mori, 1979). Because the inner bark and the wood tends to be more reddish or rose-colored than those of C. estrellensis we propose that equitibá-rosa is the most appropriate common name of this species.

Distribution: A species of the Atlantic coastal forest of Brazil from central Bahia to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Extending inland in the states of Minas Gerais and São Paulo.

Ecology: A canopy to emergent species found in moist forests. Lorenzi (1992) reports that it occurs in semi-deciduous forest. He adds that it is native to undisturbed forests but that it tolerates secondary habitats and is classified as a late secondary species by restoration ecologists (Pers. comm. R. A. Sartori to S. A. Mori, Oct 2013).

Phenology: This species has been collected in flower from Jan to May fide Prance in Prance and Mori (1979). Lorenzi (1992) states that if flowers from Dec to Feb and fruits from Aug to Sep.

Pollination: No observations recorded.

Dispersal: The unilaterally winged seeds of this species are dispersed by the wind.

Predation: No observations recorded.

Field characters: This species is characterized by its relatively small leaves, leaf base margins distinctly enrolled, and cylindrically, relatively small fruits. The petals and androecium are white but the inside of the andorecium has been reported to be red and this is shown in the flower attached image.

Taxonomic notes: This species is very closely related to C. cariniana. See that species for a discussion of their differences.

Uses: The wood of this species is sought after for use in construction and the bark is said to have medicinal properties (Prance in Mori & Prance, 1990). Lorenzi (1992) states that C. legalis is such a beautiful tree that it can be used for planting in parks and town squares. He adds that this tree is so admired that numerous cities, streets, parks, etc. have been named after it. Some of the common names of this species indicate that its inner bark has been used for caulking (estopa = caulk). Cariniana legalis is used in reforestation projects in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Etymology: The meaning of this species epithet is not known but it may refer to the strikingly beautiful growth habit of this species because the Portuguese word "legal" is applied to something that is "nice" or "cool."

Conservation: IUCN Red List: vulnerable A1ac, ver 2.3 (assessed in 1998) (IUCN, 2009). Plantas Raras do Brasil: not on list (Giulietti et al., 2009).

Source: Based on Prance in Prance & Mori (1979) and Mori & Prance (1983).

Flora and Monograph Treatment(s):

Cariniana legalis (Mart.) Kuntze: [Article] Prance, Ghillean T. & Mori, S. A. 1979. Lecythidaceae - Part I. The actinomorphic-flowered New World Lecythidaceae (Asteranthos, Gustavia, Grias, Allantoma & Cariniana). Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 21: 1-270.