Taxon Details: Lecythis lanceolata Poir.
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Lecythidaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Lecythis lanceolata Poir.
Primary Citation:

Encycl. 6: 27. 1804
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.

Author: Scott A. Mori & Nathan P. Smith

Type: Mauritius. Cultivated on the ile de France (=Mauritius), no date (fl), Commerson 518 (Thouars 882)(lectotype, P-Juss., photo NY, here designated; isolectotypes, F herb. no. 53788, K, LINN-no. 943.3, USherb. no. 1112080).

Description: Trees, to 30 m tall, without buttresses. Twigs puberulous when young. Bark grayish, with deep vertical fissures, the outer bark laminated, 25 mm thick, the inner bark cream-colored, 5 mm thick. Leaves deciduous, the new leaves flushed just before flowering; blades narrowly ovate to widely elliptic, .5-9(-12) x 1.5-5 cm, glabrous, the young blades chartaceous, the older ones more coriaceous, with 7-17 pairs of lateral veins, all orders of venation prominulous on both sides; apex acuminate; base obtuse, rarely acute, very narrowly decurrent; margins finely serrate, with 40-55 teeth on each side, these often with caducous hairs at apex; petiole 5-10 mm long, puberulous. Inflorescences racemose, arising on young twigs just below leaves, with 2-25 flowers, the rachis 6-14 cm long; pedicels 4-5 mm long, pubescent, subtended by a small caducous bract and two small caducous bracteoles when very young. Flowers 1.5-4 cm diam.; calyx with six ovate to widely ovate, not carinate, green lobes, 1.5-3 x 2.33.5 mm; petals six, widely obovate to orbiculate, 11-17 x 8-17 mm, purple throughout or purple towards apex and white towards base, fading white with age; hood of androecium flat (i.e., without coil), 8-18 x 9-20 mm, white or yellow on outside, with well-developed light yellow appendages, these with or without anthers; staminal ring with (70-) 100-120 stamens, the filaments 0.7-1.4 mm long, slightly dilated at apex, the anthers 0.4-0.8 mm long; hypanthium pubescent; ovary 4-locular, with 5-16 ovules in each locule, the ovules inserted at base ofseptum, the style 1-1.7 mm long, with stylar collor towards apex. Fruits turbinate, usually truncate at apex and more or less prominent at calycine ring, often prolonged at base, large, to 20 x 20 cm, very woody, to 2 cm thick, the exocarp smooth or sometimes warty. Seeds large, subtended by fleshy, white arils.

Common names: Brazil: sapucaia, sapucaia-miuda, sapucaia-mirim.

Distribution: Lecylhis lanceolala is found in the coastal moist forests of eastern Brazil from Rio de Janeiro to Pernambuco. It has also been collected in Goiás (Pohl 4311) and I have seen unlabelled fruits of it at the University of Mato Grosso do SuI in Campo Grande.

Ecology: Tree of coastal moist forests. This species is classified as a late secondary species by restoration ecologists (pers. comm. R. A. Sartori to S. A. Mori, Oct. 2013).

Phenology: It flowers most profusely from Oct to Feb. Nearly mature fruits have been collected in May in Bahia.

Pollination: No observations recorded but most likely pollinated by bees.

Dispersal: No observations recorded but the fleshy aril is most likely eaten by animals and L. pisonis, which has the same aril type has been documented to be dispersed by bats.

Predation: No observations recorded.

Field characters: This species is characterized by the fissured bark of adult trees; relatively small blades, the largest 5 to 9 cm long; leaf margins with 8-12 teeth per cm; all orders of venation visible naked eye on both leaf blade surfaces; pubescent pedicels and hypanthia; non carinate calyx-lobes; fusiform, sulcate seeds; and conspicuous, long basal aril.

Taxonomic notes: Most species of Lecythis display considerable fruit variation (Mori & Prance, 1981a) and L. lanceolata is no exception. Its fruits vary in the following features: 1. Degree of roughness of the exocarp. Some individuals possess fruits which have extremely warty surfaces, a feature which has been used to separate species (cf. L. tuberculata). We feel that pericarp surface is not a specific character because one often finds smooth and warty surfaces on different parts of the same fruit. It may be that extremely warty exocarps are the result of infection by insects, bacteria, or fungi. 2. Variation in position and prominence of the calycine ring. In some individuals the sepal remnants are much more woody and prominent than in others. In addition, the supracalycine-zone may be wider or narrower. 3. Angle between the calycine ring and the opercular opening. This species is characterized by having a nearly truncate supracalycine zone. However, in some collections, this zone may be more or less oblique. 4. Degree of prolongation of the base. The fruits of some individuals are prolonged into a knob at the base whereas the bases of other fruits are rounded. The number of antherless appendages on the staminal hood also varies. We have studied some collections which have no anthers on the hood appendages (e.g., Bello 24, Glaziou 6166, Kuhlmann RB.5085, Schwacke 4353), others with the hood appendages partially provided with anthers (Duarte 5781, Glaziou 658, Kuhlmann 243, Gonçalves 27041), and others with all of the hood appendages with anthers (Spada 109, Mori et al. 10867). The type of Lecythis lanceolata was collected by Commerson from a tree cultivated on the ÎIe de France (Mauritius). He originally collected the plant, either as seeds or seedlings, near Rio de Janeiro on his world voyage with Bougainville in 1767. The plants were probably carried in pots to Mauritius where they were planted in 1768. Commerson returned to Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands in 1771, remaining there until his death in 1773 (Urban, 1906). He was able to see his introduction flower and made collections of it shortly before he died.

Conservation: IUCN Red List: Lower Risk/conservation dependent ver 2.3 (Pires O'Brien, J. 1998. Lecythis lanceolata. In: IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. Downloaded on 21 March 2014.).

Uses: This species has been planted as an ornamental along the streets of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and in the botanical gardens of Durban, South Africa and Mauritius.

Etymology: The species epithet most likely refers to the shape of the leaf blades.

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

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to C. M. Potascheff for allowing us to use her images to illustrate the characters of this species.

Flora and Monograph Treatment(s):

Lecythis lanceolata Poir.: [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.