Monographs Details: Cassia filicifolia Mart. ex Benth.
Authors:Howard S. Irwin, Rupert C. Barneby
Authority: Irwin, Howard S. & Barneby, Rupert C. 1978. Monographic studies in Cassia (Leguminosae, Caesalpinioideae). III. Sections Absus and Grimaldia. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 30: 1-300.
Family:Caesalpiniaceae
Synonyms:Cassia pycnophylla Glaz. & Harms
Description:Distribution and Ecology - Campo and cerrado, mostly on lateritic soils but occasionally on limestone, 800-1025 m, locally abundant in and best known from the sources of Rio S. Bartolomeu in Distrito Federal, extending e. and s.-e. in Goias to the Maranhao fork of Rio Tocantins, the Serra dos Pireneus, and (perhaps disjunctly) the Serra do Caiapo, e. across the boundary of Minas Gerais to Serra do Rio Preto and possibly into the s.-w. corner of Bahia, s, perhaps interruptedly, to the valley of Rio Paranaiba in the Triangulo Mineiro. — Fl. (III-)IV-XI. " . . .in altis. . .montium ad Sincora prov. Bahia: Martius; in campis prope Santa Anna prov S. Paulo [= Santa Anna das Velhas in the Triangulo Mineiro, Minas Gerais] : Lund."

Species Description - Small shrubs and undershrubs, at anthesis (3-)4-12(-15) dm, with 1-several erect, distally branched stems arising from a xylopodium, the branches commonly flexuously divaricate or drooping, viscid-villosulous and -setulose throughout or almost so, the stems and lf-stalks always so, the very numerous small always setulose-ciliolate concolorous leaflets usually thinly villosulous above and both setulose and villosulous beneath but the villi sometimes almost 0, the inflorescence loosely paniculate, of shortly exserted racemes terminal to branchlets. Stipules erect or in age spreading, narrowly subulate to linear-attenuate, 1.5-6(-7) mm long, rather soft, early dry and fragile, often deciduous before the lf. Lvs loosely ascending, 6-18(-22) cm, some of any plant at least 9 cm, sessile or very shortly petiolate, those associated with inflorescences often smaller; pulvinus laterally dilated at base but otherwise scarcely differentiated, 1-2 mm; petiole 0-4(-6) mm (sometimes appearing longer when lowest lfts fallen); rachis almost as long as lf, narrowly grooved ventrally, that of major lvs 0.6-1.4 mm diam at middle of lowest segment, tapering upward; lfts of major cauline lvs 18-40(-44) pairs, of some early or uppermost leaves often fewer, commonly decrescent upward from base, sometimes in both directions from the middle, sometimes subequal, always heteromorphic in attitude, the lowest 1-3(-4) pairs deflexed toward or around the stem, the rest divaricate and tilted on twisted or decurved pulvinules 0.4-0.8 mm to bring the adaxial margin edgewise to meridian, in outline ovate or elliptic obtuse, less commonly ovate and deltately acute, or the smallest of some distal leaves obovate-suborbicular, all muticous or minutely mucronulate, (2-)3-18(-20) x (1.5-)2-11 mm, at base cordate on distal side, on ventral side broadly decurrent or subcordate, the plane margins entire, setulose and often finely villosulous-ciliolate, the blades firmly chartaceous, on both faces dull olivaceous and usually thinly villosulous with fine erect hairs, beneath only also remotely setulose along veins, but the villi of one or both faces sometimes lacking, the slender midrib immersed above, prominulous beneath, the (2-)3-4(-5) pairs of secondaries above fully immersed or slightly depressed, beneath commonly immersed but rarely finely prominulous, the tertiary venulation imperceptible. Racemes terminal to ascending, spreading, or drooping branchlets, loosely 10-50-fld, the 1-2 fls simultaneously expanded raised to or beyond level of succeeding buds, the axis becoming (4-)6-14 cm; bracts subulate or lanceolate, 1-3.5 mm, tardily deciduous; pedicels tending to ascend toward meridian hence variably oriented to the raceme-axis, (2-)2.2-3.7(-4) cm, bracteolate 3-15 mm below calyx; bracteoles resembling bracts but smaller, 0.5-2 mm, tardily deciduous; buds ovoid, short-apiculate, thinly villosulous and yellow-setulose; sepals ovate-elliptic or lance- oblong, the outer ones often red or purplish, the inner broader ones subpetaloid, 10.5-14(-16) x 2.8-6 mm; petals yellow, at anthesis openly ascending, the four plane ones obovate-cuneate or flabellate up to 16-21 x 13-19 mm, the fifth shorter, coiled; ovary densely yellow-setulose; ovules (4-)6-9(-10). Pod (3-)3.5-5.5 (-6) x 0.6-0.75(-0.9) cm, the reddish-brown valves glutinously villosulous and weakly hispid with yellow setae up to 1-2.2 mm; seeds dark brown, lustrous, 4.6-5.3 x 3-3.7 mm, cross-crackled and faintly lineolate-pitted. — Collections: 34.

Discussion:

A large-flowered, subshrubby, heavily glutinous cassia, readily recognized by its many, in larger leaves mostly 20-40 pairs of small, plane leaflets crowded the length of the tapering leafstalks, the first two or three reflexed toward the stem, or the very lowest embracing it, the rest standing out at right angles from the rachis, tilted edge upward. The vicariant, small-flowered C. azulana alone resembles it closely in habit. From all sympatric kindred, C. filicifolia differs in the high number of leaflets, which are moreover usually thinly pubescent on both faces and in addition at least remotely setulose beneath along some veins as well as around the margins. The density of the villous vesture varies, however, not only from plant to plant but even from early to late leaves in the year's cycle, and is sometimes almost lacking. The extreme variant in this direction was described as C. pycnophylla, said to differ from C. filicifolia in its blunter leaflets, a character now known to be of no taxonomic consequence. The type of C. pycnophylla was part of one of those mixed Glaziou collections which, as now distributed, contains two forms, one more and one less pubescent, of C. filicifolia, as well as alien elements of C. polita and C. decumbens. The glabrate type seems to fit the protologue and the photograph of the destroyed Berlin specimen of Glaziou 20953, and we have accordingly designated as neoholo- type what seems to be an exact duplicate at Paris.

The range of C. filicifolia outside the Fereral District is still poorly known. As noted further below, we have no exact idea of the type-locality beyond the fact that it must lie well off to the northeast of the District, possibly in extreme southwestern Bahia. A sterile specimen (Irwin & al. 27054) from Serra do Cabral, in Minas Gerais just east of Rio Sao Francisco, is highly suggestive of C. filicifolia, but must remain unidentifiable until more complete material can be obtained.

The range of C. filicifolia as given in the protologue is doubly misleading. Lund's Santa Anna is the same Sta. Anna das Velhas near which he collected also the type of C. nummulariifolia, that is in Minas Gerais and not Sao Paulo. The Martius locality for C. filicifolia in Serra de Sincora, part of the Chapada Diamantina of central Bahia, is incompatible with what is currently known of the specific range, which has been traced with certainty no further northwest than Serra do Rio Preto in the northwestern Minas Gerais. The type specimen (M) is, to be sure, labelled Sa. de Sincora, but is dated to September 1818. According to Urban s itinerary, Martius spent most of September in a foray west across the Rio Sao Francisco during which he reached a point in Goias close to the common boundary of Minas, Goias and Bahia. On the eastward journey Martius followed the Rio Carinhanha to its confluence with the Sao Francisco, which he reached and crossed only late in September. It was not until mid-October that his party reached Serra de Sincora. The discrepancies between date, locality, and the known dispersal pattern of C. filicifolia, point to some error of memory or labelling. Interestingly enough, the modern collection from Serra Rio Preto (Irwin 10289) is in fine detail the closest known match for the type of C. filicifolia, and at his point of return in September 1818 Martius was on the Parana- Sao Francisco divide not over 100 kilometers distant.

Distribution:Bahia Brazil South America| Minas Gerais Brazil South America| Goiás Brazil South America|