Monographs Details: Sebesten rickseckeri (Millsp.) Britton
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - This small, broad-leaved tree is frequent or occasional in low woods and thickets of the dry, southern and eastern districts of Porto Rico, conspicuous, when in bloom, by its clusters of large, orange-red flowers. It also inhabits the Porto Rico islands Vieques and Culebra, and the Virgin Islands, St. Thomas, St. Croix and Tortola. We have seen it only as isolated trees, not forming colonies.
Sebesten (name Arabic, first used for trees of this genus by Adanson in 1763, originally applied to a different one) consists of about 12 species of trees of tropical and subtropical America. They have alternate, large, stalked leaves, and showy flowers, usually in clusters at the ends of branches. The calyx is tubular, with from 3 to 5 teeth; the corolla is salverform, with a nearly cylindric tube and a lobed limb; the stamens are borne on the tube of the corolla, and are as many as its lobes, the anthers arrow-shaped; the ovary is 2-celled, or 4-celled, with 1 or 2 ovules in each cavity; there are usually 2 styles, each 2-cleft, the small stigmas round. The fruit is plum-like, adherent to the enlarged calyx, and enclosed by it, the stone, or pit, bony, the flesh thin.
Sebesten Rickseckeri (commemorates Alfred Edmund Ricksecker, who collected the type specimens at Cotton Valley, St. Croix) is a tree from 4 to 8 meters high, with brown bark and hairy twigs. The leaves are elliptic, ovate, or ovate-oblong, firm in texture, rough on the upper surface, pointed, without teeth, or with a few, large ones, from about 8 to 15 centimeters long, pointed, or blunt, their stalks about 5 centimeters long, or shorter. The flowers are usually several in each cluster, borne on stalks from 5 to 12 millimeters long; the calyx is smooth, or nearly so, from 10 to 15 millimeters long; the tube of the corolla is about twice as long as the calyx., its limb from 2 to 3 centimeters broad, with 5, broad, lobes. The yellow, or orange fruit is from 2 to 3 centimeters long.
Another species, Sebesten Sebestena, is similar to this one in foliage and flowers, but has a very hairy calyx, and the fruit is white and larger; it is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical America, commonly planted in Porto Rico gardens and occasionally on roadsides, but is not known to us to be wild here.
Cordia Rickseckeri Millspaugh, Field Museum Botany 1: 522. 1902.
Sebesten Rickseckeri Britton; Britton & Wilson, Scientific Survey of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands 6:124. 1925.