Monographs Details: Chamaecrista nictitans subsp. nictitans var. aspera
Authors:Howard S. Irwin, Rupert C. Barneby
Authority: Irwin, Howard S. & Barneby, Rupert C. 1982. The American Cassiinae. A synoptical revision of Leguminosae tribe Cassieae subtrib Cassiinae in the New World. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 35, part 2: 455-918.
Family:Caesalpiniaceae
Synonyms:Cassia aspera Muhl. ex Elliott, Nictitella aspera Raf., Chamaecrista aspera (Muhl. ex Elliott) Greene, Cassia simpsonii Pollard, Chamaecrista confusa Britton, Cassia caymanensis C.D.Adams, Chamaecrista aspera (Muhl. ex Elliott) Greene, Cassia aspera Muhl. ex Elliott, Cassia nictitans var. aspera (Muhl. ex Elliott) Torr. & A.Gray, Chamaecrista simpsonii (Pollard) Pollard ex A.Heller, Chamaecrista riparia (Kunth) Britton, Cassia caymanensis C.D.Adams
Description:Species Description - Annual or sometimes over-wintering monocarpic, perhaps randomly perennial, at anthesis 1.5-7.5(-10) dm, the stem simple erect, simple and bushy-branching from either below or near middle, or procumbent and humifuse, either throughout or distally minutely puberulent and also, with lf-stalks, pilose with divaricate yellowish setae up to 1.1-2.5 mm, but the puberulent or pilose vestures, exceptionally both, sometimes greatly reduced or lacking, the lfts glabrous on both faces, at least at tip minutely scabrous-ciliolate with forwardly directed hairs less than 0.35 mm. Adult lvs (1.5-)2-7.5(-9) cm; petiolar glands l(-2), discoid or shallowly concave 0.2-0.7 mm diam, stipitate, the stipe commonly dilated upward, in profile either narrowly claviform or sometimes narrowly trumpet- or tack-shaped, 0.3—0.9(—1.1) mm tall, as long or longer than diam of gland; lfts of adult lvs up to (12-) 16-28(-32) pairs, linear or linear-oblong, the largest 4-14 x 1-2.3 mm, some often (especially of later lvs, and outside Florida) becoming falcately twisted and appearing obliquely lanceolate. Pedicels at anthesis 1-2.5 mm, in fruit 2-4.5 mm; sepals 3.3-5.4 mm; long abaxial petal 5-8(-9) mm, ±1.3-2.1 times as long as the oblique cucullus; stamens 5-8(-"9"), the long anthers 1.6-2.8 mm; ovary loosely pilose (exceptionally glabrous); style linear 0.9-1.3 mm, at tip 0.15-0.25 mm diam; ovules 5—9(—13). Pod (15—) 18—32(—36) x (3.5-)4-5.5 mm, the valves purplish-castaneous, paler over the seeds, finally nigrescent, almost always pilose with fine spreading setae 1.2-2.4 mm; seeds fuscous-brown or blackish, dull or sublustrous, finely lineolate, (2.2-)2.4-3.3 mm.—Collections: 52.

Distribution and Ecology - Low seasonally moist sandy pinewoods, beaches, dunes, sometimes on limestone pavement or coral detritus, becoming weedy and locally abundant in old fields, along paths, ditches and railways, mostly below 50 m, widespread over inland and coastal peninsular Florida n.-ward from the Keys and Everglades, extending n.-w. to Gadsden County and along the Atlantic coast into the s.-e. corner of South Carolina; n. Bahama Is. (Grand Bahama, Abaco, Andros, New Providence and Eleuthera); w. Cuba (La Habana); Grand Cayman I; Jamaica (mostly western); Honduras (Corozal distr., a weed, and intermediate to var. jaliscensis).—Fl. in U.S. mostly VIII-I, in W.I. interruptedly through the year.

Discussion:

Our concept of var. aspera, only slightly, insofar as it includes West Indian Ch. confusa, more comprehensive than that of C. aspera current in United States (Pullen, 1963, p. 70; Isely, 1975, p. 67), stands midway between vars. nictitans and jaliscensis, differing from the first principally in the long setose pubescence of the upper stems, leaf-stalks and pods, and from the latter, often similar in pubescence, principally in the linear style. To distinguish it from distantly allopatric var. mensalis we are obliged to fall back once again on the inconsiderable morphological difference of shorter cilia on the leaflets, but the pod is generally broader, shorter, and fewer-seeded. The prostrate, short-leaved form of var. aspera (=C. simpsoni), found in southern peninsular Florida and the Keys, closely resembles in habit and foliage the West Indian var. diffusa, but differs in the strongly asymmetric corolla, nearly always reduced androecium, and again a broader pod.

The differences supposed by Britton to exist between Bahamian Ch. confusa and Ch. aspera of Florida and western Cuba scarcely emerge from his account in North American Flora, the first, often annual in fact, being keyed out in the supposedly perennial group Patellariae whereas the latter, along with the admittedly sometimes perennant Ch. simpsoni, appears among the annual group Fasciculatae. We find them identical except for one feature, the gland being in continental aspera generally claviform as seen in profile and not more than 0.35 mm diameter at tip, in the plants of Bahamas and Jamaica more definitely tack-shaped and up to 0.4-0.6 mm diameter. Both types of gland occur, however, in Cuba, and the whole variation recorded is less than that unanimously accepted within continental var. nictitans.

The plants called Ch. simpsoni, treated by Pennell (1917, p. 361) as an unnamed minor variant of Ch. aspera and by Pullen (1963, p. 72, in Cassia) as "nothing more than an ecotype" of the same, stand in relation to var. aspera exactly as the prostrate, short-leaved Ch. nicoyana stands to erect or ascending var. jaliscensis, repeating a pattern of habital variation found throughout the whole specific complex of Ch. nictitans. While the contrast between the most robust, erect, bushy-branching and the most slender, diffuse or humifuse extremes of each variety is visually arresting, these are connected in each case by a chain of intermediate types. It may be noted in this particular case that Adams (1972, p. 328, as C. caymanensis) recognizes both growth forms in Jamaican var. aspera. Isely (l.c.) draws attention to individual variants of the simpsoni type with merely puberulent or even fully glabrous (cf. Small 3787, p.p., NY) stems, foliage, and pod; these are particularly suggestive of West Indian var. diffusa although retaining the asymmetric flower and few stamens of var. aspera.

Distribution:Florida United States of America North America| South Carolina United States of America North America| Bahamas South America| Grand Bahama Bahamas South America| Great Abaco Bahamas South America| Andros Island Bahamas South America| New Providence Bahamas South America| Eleuthera Bahamas South America| Cuba South America| La Habana Cuba South America| Grand Cayman Cayman Islands South America| Cayman Islands South America| Jamaica South America| Honduras Central America|