Monographs Details: Calliandra coriacea (Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.) Benth.
Authors:Rupert C. Barneby
Authority: Barneby, Rupert C. 1998. Silk tree, guanacaste, monkey's earring: A generic system for the synandrous Mimosaceae of the Americas. Part III. Calliandra. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 74: 1-223.
Synonyms:Calliandra glyphoxylon var. glaberrima Benth., Calliandra anthoniae J.W.Grimes, Inga coriacea Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd., Anneslia tergemina (L.) Britton & Rose, Calliandra glaberrima (Benth.) Britton & Killip
Description:Species Description - Macrophyllidious arborescent shrubs fertile when (1.5-)3-10(-12) m tall, with trunk attaining 1.5 dm dbh and terete gray virgate long-shoots, glabrous throughout except for sometimes minutely puberulent or barbellate peduncles and ventral face of lf-axes, the chartaceous lfts at maturity lustrous dove-gray or brown-olivaceous above, paler dull beneath, the capitula arising singly from lowest 1-3 elaminate nodes of brachyblasts axillary to hornotinous lvs, or occasionally also from random primary axils; phyllotaxy distichous. Stipules mostly ovate or depressed- deltate, rarely broad-lanceolate, 1-3.5 mm, weakly striate when young, becoming indurate and externally nerveless, persistent. Lf-formula i/1½, each pinna 3- foliolate, composed of a terminal pair of lfts and a smaller posterior one near base of pinna-rachis; lf-stk of primary lvs, including nigrescent cross-wrinkled pulvinus, 6-39 mm, at middle 0.5-1.2 mm diam, the ventral groove shallow; rachis of pinnae 5-24 mm, either longer or shorter than petiole; lft-pulvinules (dry) either pallid or nigrescent, cross-wrinkled, in dorsal view (0.8—)1.1—1.8(—2) x 1-2.4 mm; lfts inequilaterally narrow- or broad-elliptic from antically cuneate, postically decurrent or incipiently semi-cordate base, mostly short-acuminate and at very apex obtuse apiculate (exceptionally shallowly emarginate, or attenuate and acute), the two distal lfts (2-)4—10 x 1—3.2(—3.5) cm, (1.8—)2.5—5 times as long as wide; primary venation of (3-)4(-5) nerves from pulvinule, the gently incurved, pinnately branched midrib forwardly displaced to divide blade ±1:1.5-2, the inner posterior nerve almost as strong, incurved-ascending well beyond mid-blade, the outer posterior one(s) much shorter, all these together with tertiary and reticular venules prominulous on both faces. Peduncles (6-)11-44 mm, almost always bracteate near or above middle; capitula 11—28-fld, the subglobose receptacle 1.5-2.5 mm diam; bracts mostly <1 mm, persistent; fls of each capitulum homomorphic as to perianth but the androecia sometimes dimorphic, that of some terminal fls a little longer and dilated into a trumpet; pedicels cryptic, <0.6 mm; perianth greenish-white, glabrous (micropuberulent), either 4- or 5-merous, the calyx finely striate, the corolla not so; calyx campanulate or deeply campanulate 1.4—3 (-3.3) x 1.1-2.8 mm, the teeth 0.1-0.35 mm; corolla 8-13 mm, the lobes 1.6-2.7 mm; androecium of peripheral fls 20-58-merous, 3-5 cm, the tube 1-3.5 cm, always at least shortly exserted, the stemonozone 0.6-1.4 mm, the tassel either pink or red-purple; intrastaminal nectary 0. Pods standing erect from plagiotropic branches, in broad view 9-13 x 0.8-1.3 cm, glabrous overall, the dark-castaneous sutural ribs in dorsal view 3.5-4 mm wide, the plane recessed lignescent valves faintly or weakly cross-venulose; seeds (few seen) broad-elliptic-oblong in broad view, ±7.5-11.5 x 5.5-8 mm, the testa pale brown, papery, loosely enveloping the embryo, becoming fragile and sometimes narrowly winged around the periphery; pleurogram 0.

Distribution and Ecology - On rocky river banks and gravelly shores, sometimes forming riparian thickets of great extent, 20-1100 m, of discontinuous range between 1° and 18°N in Central America and n. South America: scattered between centr. Panama (prov. Code Colon, and Panama) and extra-Amazonian Colombia (prov. Chocó to middle Magdalena Valley); on blackwater streams at 100-230 m on the headwaters of the Orinoco in Venezuela (Amazonas); in interior Guianas (headwaters of Essequibo in Guyana, on the Nickerie Lucie, upper Coppename, Gran, Tapanahoni and Gonini rivers in Surinam) and adj. Pará, Brazil (middle and lower rios Trombetas and Parú do Oeste); and remotely disjunct in Belize (Cayo). — Map 34. — Fl. in Belize, Panama and w. Colombia II-V, VII-IX, in Venezuela XII-IV, VII, in the Guianas and Pará V-IX, XI, the full cycle not documented.


The comprehensive concept of C. coriacea expressed in the foregoing synonymy and description has been built up by accretion of geographic elements that were mistaken at first for closely related but distinct taxa. The historic nucleus of C. coriacea, based on a unicate specimen collected at an unrecorded locality, very likely in Colombia, by Humboldt, was unknown to Bentham, who redescribed it as a var. glaberrima of the upland Ecuadorean C. glyphoxylon, obviously different in copious loose pubescence, larger stipules, shorter leaf-stalks, 8 (not 6)-foliolate leaves, capitula of not less than thirty flowers, and few (16-18) stamens per flower. The typical, Colombian C. coriacea has all flowers of the capitulum homomorphic or almost so, with slenderly tubular androecium 19-35 mm long. In southwest Venezuela the otherwise similar riparian calliandra has at least incipiently heteromorphic flowers, with slightly shorter corolla mostly 8-10 (not 10-13) mm long and androecial tubes mostly 10-17 mm long. In preliminary studies these plants were segregated as a var. aquae-nigrae Barneby, a manuscript name that has no nomenclatural status. The plants of the Guianas and adjoining Brazil were described as C. anthoniae in order to correct their previous misidentification, by Anthonia Kleinhoonte, as C. tergemina (Linnaeus) Bentham, and to provide a name, no longer needed, for an account of Calliandra for Flora of the Guianas, then in preparation. As monographic studies progressed, nothing of substance could be found to distinguish C. anthoniae from Colombian C. coriacea or, for that matter, from the localized Belizean populations described by Lundell as C. rivalis.

Calliandra coriacea differs ideally from superficially similar C. trinervia (sens. lat.) in nearly elliptic leaflets with subequally convex anterior and posterior margins, in fruits stiffly ascending from the branches like those of C. angustifolia, and in smaller seeds. In Venezuela, however, the leaflets are sometimes a little wider on the anterior side of the costa, and the attitude of the fruits needs confirmation in the field. The species as a whole is more easily separable from related C. angustifolia by its 3(not 4)-foliolate pinnae and by much larger distal leaflets. Differential characters of the also related C. antioquiae are brought out in the protologue of that species, next following.

Distribution:Coclé Panamá Central America| Colón Panama Central America| Panamá Panama Central America| Chocó Colombia South America| Magdalena Colombia South America| Amazonas Venezuela South America| Pará Brazil South America|