Taxon Details: Couratari asterophora Rizzini
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Lecythidaceae (Magnoliophyta)
Scientific Name:

Couratari asterophora Rizzini
Primary Citation:

Rodriguésia 28(41): 177. 1976
Accepted Name:

This name is currently accepted.

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

Type: Brazil. Bahia: Itamaraju, Fazenda Palmeira, 30 Jul 1971 (fl), M. T. Monteiro 23520 (holotype, RB).

Description: Trees. Stems tomentellous when young, becoming glabrous with age. Leaves: petioles 9-11 mm long, appressed puberulous, winged, slightly canaliculate; blades oblong, broadest well above mid-point, 22-24 x 9-11 cm, chartaceous, appressed tomentellous adaxially, mostly with simple hairs and a few stellate ones, the base rounded, the margines undulate, the apex obtuse; midrib prominulous adaxially, prominent abaxially, the secondary veins in 28-35 pairs, prominulous adaxially, prominent abaxially, the tertiary venation prominently reticulate on both surfaces, hirsutulous abaxially. Inflorescences terminal or axillary, simple racemes or once-branched paniculate arrangements of racemes, the rachis and rachillae densely tomentellous; bracts and bracteoles ovate, 10-14 mm long, subpersistent, densely tomentose abaxially; pedicels 2-3 mm long, densely tomentose. Flowers with hypanthium campanulate, 5-6 mm long; calyx lobes ca. 5 mm long, densely tomentose abaxially, tomentellous adaxially; petals obovate, tomentellous on exterior, the margins ciliate, rose-yellow (fide protologue); androecium glabrous, ca. 2.5 cm long, the staminal ring 14-17 mm diam., the exterior of hood with numerous, dense echinate appendages giving the whole a cerebriform appearance, the stamens ca. 30, inserted around outer side of staminal ring and scattered up lower portion of ligule; ovary 3-locular. Fruits not seen.

Common names: Brazil: embirema (Monteiro 23520).

Distribution: Known only from the type collection from southern Bahia, Brazil and a sterile collection from CVRD Forest Reserve in northern Espírito Santo.

Ecology: A mediuim sized tree of moist forests.

Phenology: Collected in flower in July.

Pollination: No observations recorded but bees have been observed visiting the flowers of the closely related Couratari stellata (Mori & Boeke, 1987).

Dispersal: The circumferentially winged seeds are dispersed by the wind.

Predation: No observation recorded.

Field characters: According to Prance in Mori & Prance (1990), the pubescence of the adaxial surface of the leaf blade (an unusual feature in Lecythidaceae), fewer stamens, and the different arrangement of the stamens on the ligule of the androecium characterize this species. The large size of the leaves and high number of pairs of secondary veins (more than any other species in Couratari sect. Echinata also distinguish this species.

Taxonomic notes: This species belongs to Couratari sect. Echinata which includes the following species: C. asterophora, C. asterotricha, C. macrosperma, C. pyramidata, C. scottmorii, and C. stellata. This section is characterized by an echinate androecial hood (see images of the androecium on the species pages of C. macrosperma, C. scottmorii, and C. stellata). Prance also notes that the species possess short pedicels and sessile fruits with well developed calyx scars. In addition, the flowers of these species are not produced when the trees are leafless, have white petals, white to yellowish androecial hoods, and the pubescence of the inflorescence rachises and hypanthia are yellowish-brown in color. There is no sign of the pink to purple flower coloration and leaf fall just before flowering found in the other two sections of the genus (sects. Couratari and microcarpa). The pubescence of species of sect. Couratari is purple tinged and the species of sect. microcarpa are glabrous. The species of sect. Echinata form a superspecies (Prance in Mori & Prance, 1990) and are difficult to distinguish from one another. In addition, Several of the species, especially those from eastern Brazil, where four of the six species occur, are known from relatively few collections; thus, it is not yet possible to say if the differences among them provided in their protologues merit recognition at the species level.

Uses: None recorded.

Etymology: The species epithet meas star-bearing and most likely alludes to the stellate pubescence.

Conservation: IUCN Red List: critically endangered B1+2c, ver 2.3 (assessed in 1998) (IUCN, 2009). Plantas Raras do Brasil: rare (Giulietti et al., 2009).

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

Acknowledgements: We are grateful to M. Ribeiro for allowing us to use his images to illustrate the characters of this species.

Flora and Monograph Treatment(s):

Couratari asterophora Rizzini: [Article] Mori, S. A. & Prance, Ghillean T. 1990. Lecythidaceae - Part II: The zygomorphic-flowered New World genera (Couroupita, Corythophora, Bertholletia, Couratari, Eschweilera, & Lecythis). With a study of secondary xylem of Neotropical Lecythidaceae by Carl de Zeeuw. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 21: 1-376.