Taxon Details: Eschweilera ovata (Cambess.) Mart. ex Miers
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Family:

Lecythidaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Eschweilera ovata (Cambess.) Mart. ex Miers
Primary Citation:

Trans. Linn. Soc. London 30: 257. 1874
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.
Description:

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

Type: Same as for Lecythis ovata Cambess.

Description: Small to medium-sized trees, 3-20 m tall. Bark gray, with shallow, interconnected fissures, the outer bark 1-2 mm thick, the inner bark 4 mm thick. Leaves: petioles 5-10 mm long; blades elliptic, less frequently interpreted as ovate, 5-14.5 x 3-6.5 cm, glabrous, chartaceous to coriaceous, the base obtuse to rounded, the margins entire, the apex acute or acuminate; secondary veins in 8-10 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescences racemose, terminal or axillary, usually unbranched, the principal rachis 1-10 cm long, glabrous; pedicels well-defined, 10-15 mm long. Flowers 3-4 cm diam.; calyx with six lobes, the lobes widely ovate, 3.5-7 x 3-7 mm, ascending, not imbricate or scarcely imbricate, convex abaxially, flat adaxially; petals six, usually white or light yellow, widely obovate, 17-24 x 12-18 mm; androecium with staminal ring with 150-225 stamens, the filaments not clavate, 1.5-2 mm long, the anthers 0.3-0.5 mm long, the hood forming double coil, 11-20 x 11-16 mm, yellow; ovary 2-locular, with 7-9 basally attached ovules, the summit umbonate, the style 2-3 mm long. Fruits cup-shaped, generally rounded at base, 2.5-3.5 x 2.5-4.0 cm (excluding operculum), the pericarp 2-3 mm thick, the calycine ring inserted near apex. Seeds 1-2 per fruit; aril lateral.

Common names: Brazil: biriba is the most common name applied to this species (L. Mattos-silva 1143 and many other collections by this collector and others), biriba-branca (S. A. Mori et al. 10937) is applied to individuals with lighter colored bark growing in open areas and biriba-preta (Euponino 180) is applied to individuals with darker colored bark growing in forest. Other names such as biriba roxa (F. S. Santos 277), embiriba (C. Ramalho 2056), imbiriba (K. Almeida & M. Andrade 85), and sapucaia biriba (D. Sucre 5695) are infrequently used for this species.

Distribution: Found in eastern coastal Brazil from Espírito Santo northward into eastern Amazonia. Further to the north in Pará and southern Amapá other collections have been gathered that could represent this species. In this area, the Guianan E. pedicellata meets the northernmost populations of E. ovataand it becomes difficult to assign collections to one or the other of these two species.

Ecology: A common species found in moist to wet forests and in shorter restinga forests. This species is also common in degraded areas where it appears to be a pioneer species (Gusson et al., 2006)

Phenology: Flowering collections have been made throughout the year but peak flowering occurs from Sep to Jan. This species may lose most of its leaves and flush new leaves sometime after the old leaves have dropped in Oct as reported by A. Popovkin based on observations of a single tree (Popovkin, pers. Obs. on 17 Oct. 2007).

Pollination: Several observations have noted that the flowers are pleasantly aromatic (D. Daly et al. D266 and J. Pirani & D. Zappi 1055). E. P. Heringer et al. 3424A reported a large bee resembling a bumble bee pollinating the flowers.

Dispersal: Squirrels seem to be the most efficient dispersal agents but the dispersal system is similar to that of the Brazil nut, i.e., the squirrels eat some seeds and hide others for future consumption. Those that are fogotten have the potential to grow into trees. The red-rumped cacique knocks the seeds out of the fruit while feeding on the arils but they were not observed carrying seeds away from the tree (Vilela et al., 2012).

Predation: The seeds of E. ovata are preyed by a wide variety of animals which includes squirrels, monkeys, agoutis, pacas, peccarries, and opossums (Vilela et al., 2012).

Field characters: This is the only species of Eschweilera in eastern Brazil with a double-coiled androecial hood but in eastern Amazonia there are many species with this type of androecial hood.. It is also recognized in the field by its white or pale yellow petals; darker yellow androecial hood; its small, cup-shaped, thin-walled fruits; and lateral arils. The calyx-lobes are separate from one another (i. e., they do not form a calycine rim as in the Eschweilera sect. Tetrapetala group). This is the most commonly collected species of Lecythidaceae in eastern Brazil.

Taxonomic notes: Berg (1858) recognized a number of infraspecific taxa of Lecythis ovata Camb. which were later correctly transferred to Eschweilera by Miers (1874). In addition, Berg named other eastern Brazilian species, e.g. L. blanchetiana which are currently placed in taxonomy. We recommend that the protologues and types of the synonyms under Eschweilera ovata be studied before new species of Eschweilera, or future segregates from it, are published. We are confident that specimens identified as this species from Maranhão and eastern Pará represent this species but are less confident about those from Amapá.

Conservation: IUCN Red List: not on list (IUCN, 2009). Plantas Raras do Brasil: not on list (Giulietti et al., 2009).

Uses: Used to make the bows of a musical instrument called the berimbau which is the most important musical instrument in the martial arts dance called capoeira. The dance originated with African slaves. The species is also important in forest sucession after major disturbance (Gusson et al., 2006) and the individuals of this species have been used to make charcoal, railroad ties (J. Spada 004/77) and shingles (A. P. Duarte 6646).

Etymology: The species epithet most likely refers to the leaves which are sometimes ovate in shape.

Source: Based on Mori and Prance in Mori and Prance (1990).

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