Monographs Details: Trichilia elegans A.Juss. subsp. elegans
Authority: Pennington, Terence D. 1981. Meliaceae. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 28: 1-359, 418-449, 459-470. (Published by NYBG Press)
Family:Meliaceae
Synonyms:Trichilia elegans A.Juss., Moschoxylum elegans A.Juss., Heynichia malleoides Kunth, Odontosiphon elegans M.Roem., Odontandra elegans (A.Juss.) Triana & Planch., Odontandra parviflora Triana & Planch., Trichilia parviflora (Triana & Planch.) C.DC., Trichilia warmingii C.DC., Trichilia warmingii var. macrophylla C.DC., Trichilia hirsuta C.DC., Trichilia elegans var. latifoliola C.DC., Trichilia guayaquilensis C.DC., Moschoxylum viride Rusby, Trichilia graciliflora Harms, Trichilia guayaquilensis var. normalis Kuntze & C.DC., Trichilia guayaquilensis var. candollei Kuntze & C.DC., Trichilia alba C.DC., Trichilia hassleri C.DC., Trichilia subarborescens C.DC., Trichilia viridis var. puberula (Rusby) Lingelsh., Trichilia weberbaueri C.DC., Trichilia validinervia Harms
Description:Species Description - Field characters. Small tree to 12 m. The principal flowering season throughout the range is October to December with the fruit ripening April to July, but there is considerable variation, as would be expected with a species occupying such a wide geographical range. The flowers are white or greenish-white and the fruit ripens maroon or wine-red, and contains one or more seeds partially surrounded by an orange-red, thin, fleshy arillode.

Discussion:Subspecies elegans contains much variation, only part of which is correlated with ecology or geography. Variation occurs in leaflet shape, size, number, venation and indumentum; size of inflorescence; indumentum of corolla and staminal tube; number of ovary loculi; and quantity of indumentum of the capsule. Most of it is sporadic, involving only one or two of these characters, and is uncorrelated with the variation of other characters and with geography and therefore not suitable as a basis for formal taxonomic units.

Within typical "elegans" in southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina there is much variation of this type, as in leaflet shape and size, or in quantity of indumentum of the capsule. Typical T. elegans is a plant with several pairs of small elliptic rather coriaceous leaflets with prominent intersecondary venation. In Paraguay and northern Argentina a plant with much larger leaflets and more numerous parallel secondary veins intergrades with it and replaces it further north, both to the east in Minas Gerais and Goias, and to the west along the eastern foothills of the Andes. This variant was described by de Candolle as T. warmingii from Minas Gerais, and as T. alba in Paraguay, and more recently other names have been applied to it in different parts of its range (T. viridis from Bolivia, T. validinervia from Peru). Within this variant considerable uncorrelated variation also occurs in the quantity of leaf indumentum, degree of fusion of filaments, and presence or absence of appendages on the staminal tube.

Variation is further complicated in the Andean range of the alba-warmingii variant. In the savanna woodlands of central Bolivia typical "alba" occurs with a small-leaved, densely pubescent form described as T. subarborescens. A similar pubescent form is known from the dry areas of northern Peru and also from western Colombia (Dept. Valle). A trifoliolate population occurs in the lower Huallaga region, Loreto, Peru, and from the same area there is a form with rather large, softly-hairy leaflets with a lax, few-flowered inflorescence. The latter is also known from western Colombia where it was described as T. parviflora.

Although it is clear that some variants such as the "subarborescens " type from Bolivia are correlated with the extreme ecological conditions (savanna woodland under a strongly seasonal climate), there is too much overlap and intergradation of characters with those of other more normal variants for this type of variation to be used as the basis of formal taxonomic units. In addition there is evidence that such variants have arisen independently in widely separated geographical areas. It appears that individuals in any one area resemble each other more than they resemble individuals from other distant areas. For example, the "parviflora" and "subarborescens" types from the same area of Department del Valle, western Colombia both have an unusual nectary form (patelliform and sometimes prolonged into narrow appendages) unknown from elsewhere in the species, and a completely glabrous staminal tube which is unusual in this species. The trifoliolate form from eastern Peru closely resembles the pinnate-leaved plant from the same area in the fine details of leaflet size and venation. Although this evidence needs further confirmation, it suggests that these forms have arisen independently in each area.

Distribution and Ecology: Most abundant in southern Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina, but extending northwards through eastern and central Bolivia, and then along the eastern slopes of the Andes through Peru and Colombia with a few records from Venezuela. It is also present on the Pacific side of the Andes in Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru. In eastern Brazil it occurs sporadically through Minas Gerais and Goias as far north as the Federal District. Ecological information is scant but the subspecies appears to occupy a wide range of habitats. In southern Brazil it occurs in rain forest and Araucaria forest (Santa Catarina) subject to a strongly seasonal climate, while records from Minas Gerais and Goias show it to be present in riverine forest in otherwise drier cerrado vegetation. In central Bolivia it is a component of savanna woodland (Herzog, 1923), an open woody vegetation with many deciduous species, subjected to a long dry season. Further north it is a plant of evergreen forest along the eastern slopes of the Andes, where it ascends to 1000 m, while in northern coastal Peru and southern Ecuador it is again a constituent of dry seasonal forest.

Distribution:Colombia South America| Venezuela South America| Ecuador South America| Peru South America| Madre de Dios Peru South America| Brazil South America| San Martín Peru South America| Loreto Peru South America| Guayas Ecuador South America| Manabí Ecuador South America| Zulia Venezuela South America| Mérida Venezuela South America| Santander Colombia South America| Tolima Colombia South America| Valle Colombia South America| Goiás Brazil South America| Minas Gerais Brazil South America| São Paulo Brazil South America| Paraná Brazil South America| Santa Catarina Brazil South America| Bolivia South America| Santa Cruz Bolivia South America| Paraguay South America| Argentina South America|