Monographs Details: Cavendishia complectens subsp. striata var. cylindrica Luteyn
Authority: Luteyn, James L. 1983. Ericaceae--part I. Cavendishia. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 35: 1-290. (Published by NYBG Press)
Description:Latin Diagnosis - A var. striata inflorescentiis congestis compactis cylindricis non laxis, calycibus omnino non ex parte bracteis floralibus involutis, pedicellis 0.5-1.5 non (1.2-)2.5-7 mm longis, bracteolis cucullaris striatis 5.5-10 mm non planis laevigatis 1.5-4(-6) mm longis differt.

Variety Description - Inflorescence congested, compact, cylindric with floral bracts completely concealing calyx and lower part of corolla at anthesis; floral bracts (7-)9-13 mm long and broad; pedicels 0.5-1.5 mm long; bracteoles spathulate to suborbicular, concave, cucullate, conspicuously striate (4-)5.5-10 mm long and broad, longer than pedicels and usually enveloping calyx (totally or partially) at anthesis. Calyx 49 mm long; hypanthium 1.3-2.7 mm long; limb 2.5-6.3 mm long; lobes 1.5-5 mm long; corolla 7-11 mm long, completely white; style 8.2-9 mm long; stamens subequal or alternately 8-8.2 mm and 8.3-8.5 mm long; filaments alternately 2.5-3 mm and 3.8-4.3 mm long; anthers alternately 6 mm and 5-5.3 mm long; thecae 2-2.5 mm long.

Discussion:Cavendishia complectens is one of the easiest species to recognize within the genus because of its semiorbicular, cordate, amplexicaul leaves.

In 1932, Smith recognized the species as occurring from Costa Rica to Ecuador; however in 1946 he segregated the Colombian-Ecuadorian representatives as a new taxon, C. striata. He summarized the differences in the following key (Smith, 1946):

1. Flower-subtending bracts striate, the principal veins parallel, ascending, strongly raised on both surfaces; rachis 1.5-2.5 cm long; Calyx-lobes oblong, longer than broad (1.5-3 X 1.52.5 mm), narrowly imbricate, striate within with strong parallel veins; western Colombia and Ecuador. C. striata.

1. Flower-subtending bracts smooth on both surfaces, not striate, the venation obscurely reticulate, immersed; rachis 3-10 cm long; Calyx-lobes broadly ovate-suborbicular, broader than long (2.5-4 X 3-4.5 mm), conspicuously and broadly imbricate, narrowed at the base, smooth on both surfaces, the venation reticulate, immersed; Costa Rica and Panama.

C. complectens.

Collections which have accumulated since 1946 show that the character of rachis length varies too much to be of taxonomic use. Wilbur & Stone 9823 from Costa Rica shows floral bracts which are striate and calyx lobes which are somewhat oblong and striate. Other collections from Costa Rica show the floral bracts strongly ribbed after drying, although never coriaceous and striate in the same manner as those from South America. One may also find in South American material calyx lobes more or less reniform or at least broadly ovate-oblong and relatively broadly imbricate, and rarely lobes flaring at anthesis (from Cordillera Cutucü, Ecuador). I have observed in Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador that the plants have similar habits, habitats, and usually floral coloration patterns. Therefore, I do not feel that the characters previously used are diagnostic at the specific level. It seems biologically more meaningful to recognize only one species with two subspecies based on the characters mentioned in my key above.

Subspecies striata contains two well-marked varieties distinguished by the characters given in the key and descriptions above. The collections now available from Colombia and Ecuador show the varieties themselves to be variable; however, it was decided not to subdivide further the taxa until more collections and field observations show the need. The most obvious variation in var. striata is found in pedicel length which varies from 1 mm (thus approaching var. cylindrica) to 7 mm long (more typical for subsp, complectens) throughout the range of the variety. This variation may, in turn, influence the bracteole/calyx relationship in that in a short-pedicellate population the bracteoles may partially cover (but never clasp or envelop) the calyx hypanthium; whereas in a long-pedicellate population the bracteoles are “dwarfed” by the long pedicels. In 1952, Smith mentioned that under very high magnification the young bracteoles, calyces, and corollas of Camp E-1207 and E-2391 were seen to be copiously glandular with minute spherical sessile glands. I have looked at these same specimens and have not seen any glands. The surfaces are microscopically muricate, however, and the drying process often accentuates this feature, so this is what I believe Smith was describing. It is a feature common to many species and would not seem to be of taxonomic significance.

Variety cylindrica has the reverse variation in which the pedicel length is constant (<1.5 mm long) while bracteole length varies. Usually the bracteoles are 5.5-7 mm long and clasp the calyx almost or quite up to the lobe tips. However in Luteyn & Lebrón-Luteyn 7213 the bracteoles are ca. 4 mm long. In Forero et al. 6095, Gentry & Rentería 24624, and Luteyn & Lebrón-Luteyn 7209 and 7227 the bracteoles are 7-10 mm long, overtopping and enveloping the calyx and lower part of the corolla. Forero et al. 6095 and Luteyn & Lebrón-Luteyn 7209 differ further in that their calyx lobes are triangular, and separate not imbricate as is characteristic for the species.

Vivipary is displayed in Luteyn & Lebrón-Luteyn 7209 where the tightly appressed floral bracts prevent the mature fruits from falling to the ground or being dispersed by animals. Seedlings as long as 10 cm were collected from the above plant (Fig. 49E).

In the mature fruits I have sampled, the berries were juicy but not sweet. They also had a slight but definite wintergreen odor and taste. [The fruits were kindly supplied to me by Dylan Hannon from plants grown at the University of California at Santa Barbara, originally collected in Costa Rica.]

Within ser. Imbricatae, C. complectens is somewhat isolated, showing minor affinities towards several species but no apparent close relationships to any. In size, shape, and general appearance its calyx and corolla resemble those of C. tenella and C. zamorensis, although the former species has calyx lobes with glandular-callose margins and slightly zygomorphic corollas. The inflorescence of C. complectens subsp, striata var. cylindrica more closely resembles that of C. confertiflora in having elongate rachises with tightly imbricate flowers, and floral bracts (and bracteoles) which are concave, clasp the flowers at anthesis, and are persistent. The syndrome of features unique to complectens consists of the very striking amplexicaul leaves, the infrequent odor of wintergreen (elsewhere found only in sect. Quereme, and ser. Lactiviscidae of sect. Engleriana, and the flower color pattern of subsp, complectens. A more remote relationship to C. isernii (ser. Deciduae) is discussed with that species.
Distribution:Colombia South America| Antioquia Colombia South America| Chocó Colombia South America| Valle Colombia South America|