Monographs Details: Trichilia trifolia subsp. pteleaefolia (A.Juss.) T.D.Penn.
Authority: Pennington, Terence D. 1981. Meliaceae. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 28: 1-359, 418-449, 459-470. (Published by NYBG Press)
Synonyms:Trichlilia pteleaefolia A.Juss., Pholacilia pteleaefolia (A.Juss.) Griseb.

Variation and relationships. Trichilia trifolia is a rather isolated species in sect. Trichilia, perhaps distantly related to T. havanensis with which it shares some essential floral and fruit characters, such as the endospermous seed.

The two subsp. palmeri and pteleaefolia are both of local occurrence, are relatively non-variable, and are morphologically separable on the basis of known specimens from the third widely distributed variable subsp, trifolia. However, as material of all three is very sparse, the status of these subspecies should be regarded as provisional pending the collection of more material and data, especially from areas intermediate between their known areas of distribution. It will be particularly interesting to see whether the species occurs in the coastal areas of eastern and northeastern Brazil in the huge intervening area between subsp. pteleaefolia and subsp. trifolia.

Subspecies trifolia shows considerable variability throughout its range. Leaflet shape, size, number, pubescence of leaflet undersurface, presence or absence of tufts of hair in the hollowed out axils of the secondary veins (domatia), pubescence of the ovary and fruit all vary. The leaves are usually trifoliolate, less frequently unifoliolate, but both may be found on the same plant in northern Venezuela and Colombia. The ovary and fruit are usually hairy, but glabrous individuals occur in western Mexico and Venezuela. The variation of these characters cannot be used to subdivide the subspecies because it is too sporadic, usually involves only a single character, and is uncorrelated with the variation of other characters.

Obs. 1. A few specimens of subsp, palmeri from western Mexico and one of subsp, trifolia from Venezuela have an unusual staminal tube structure in which the lower half of the tube is greatly swollen and partially fused to the ovary (Fig. 15a). The filaments are free at the apex as in the normal flower, and the tube is free at the base in the area surrounding the nectary. The nectary is therefore in a small cavity completely closed from the exterior. This structure has been noted in both male and female flowers. Its function is unknown, and it may possibly be caused by insect damage though this seems unlikely as in other respects the flowers are normal and in no way distorted.
Distribution:Brazil South America| Rio de Janeiro Brazil South America| Minas Gerais Brazil South America| Oaxaca Mexico North America| Chiapas Mexico North America| Tabasco Mexico North America| Guerrero Mexico North America| Veracruz Mexico North America|