Monographs Details: Ecastaphyllum ecastophyllum (L.) Britton
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - The fruits of plants of the Pea Family show very wide diversity of form and structure, while their flowers are for the most part similar; technically we call all these various fruits legumes, or, popularly, pods; extreme kinds are those of Peas and Beans, which are long, and split longitudinally when ripe, releasing the several or many seeds; those of the vine here illustrated are nearly orbicular, and flat, contain only 1 seed, and fall away without opening. Again, most plants of the Pea Family have compound leaves with from 3 to many leaflets, while here there is but one leaflet, but we know that the leaf is really compound because there is a joint in its stalk near the middle. This vine grows along the coasts and borders of Mangrove swamps, and occasionally inland, through the northern West Indies, extending to Florida, the Bahamas, and Jamaica, and eastward to Virgin Gorda; it is singularly wanting in the Lesser Antilles, but appears again in Trinidad, on coasts of continental tropical America, and on those of tropical Africa.
Ecastophyllum is a genus composed of only a few species of woody vines, or shrubs, natives of tropical and subtropical America; only one of them grows in Porto Rico, but a vine with similar fruit, Securidaca volubilis, called Membrillo, and Money-bush, is frequent on hillsides and along streams, but has leaves with from 3 to 5 leaflets, and 9 stamens in 2 fascicles of 4 or 5. The name, first applied by Patrick Browne in his rare folio volume describing the plants of Jamaica, published in 1756, is with reference to the 1-foliolate leaves. The flowers are white, in small, axillary clusters, the calyx short, the standard broad, the wing-petals oblong, the keel-petals united on the beak; the stamens are into a cleft sheath; the ovary contains 2 ovules, but only 1 of them matures into a seed.
Ecastophyllum Ecastophyllum is usually a woody vine, widely branching, occasionally reaching a length of 10 meters, but is recorded as sometimes tree-like and 8 meters high; the young twigs are finely hairy. The stipules are narrow, milky-hairy, pointed, about 1 centimeter long; the leaf-stalk is stout, hairy, from 4 to 12 millimeters long, and the stalk of the leaflet 2 to 3 millimeters long, and the stalk of the leaflet is rounded or somewhat heart-shaped at the base, 6 to 12 centimeters long, finely hairy on the under side. The clusters of flowers are hairy, and not much longer than the leaf-stalks; the calyx is about 5 millimeters long, its 2 upper teeth broad; the petals are about twice as long as the calyx. The pod varies from nearly orbicular to broadly oval, is finely hairy, and from 1.5 to 3 centimeters long.
Hedysarum Ecastophyllum Linnaeus, Systema Naturae, edition 10,1169.1759
Ecastophyllum Brownei Persoon, Synopsis Plantarum 2: 277. 1807.
Ecastophyllum Ecastophyllum Britton, Memoirs of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden 1: 55. 1918.