Monographs Details: Tetrazygia elaeagnoides (Sw.) DC.
Authority: Britton, Nathaniel L. Flora Borinqueña.
Description:Species Description - Imparting a characteristic grey-green color to hillside thickets in which it is locally abundant (whence the Spanish name), this small tree inhabits moist and dry parts of Porto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and grows also in Santo Domingo. Its foliage is dense and its branches do not spread widely; when once known, trees may be recognized from a long distance. Another Porto Rican name for it is Verde seco; Kre-kre is its popular name in the Virgin Islands; Cenizo (ashy) refers to the grey color of the underside of its leaves.
The generic name Tetrazygia is Greek, proposed by the French botanist L. C. Richard, and published by de Candolle in 1828; it refers to the 4-parted flowers of the species known at the time; subsequent knowledge showed that some of the other kinds have the flowers 5-parted; about 16 species are now known, all West Indian; in addition to the one here illustrated, two others are recorded from Porto Rico. All have opposite, strongly nerved leaves, and clustered flowers. The calyx is constricted above the ovary; the petals are broadest above the middle; there are 8 or 10 nearly equal stamens, with slender filaments and narrow anthers; the slender style is topped by a very small stigma. The fruit is a berry.
Tetrazygia elaeagnoides (like Elaeagnus, which is also ashy in color), may become about 10 meters high, but is usually lower, and sometimes shrubby, its branches slender, and the bark separates from the trunk in narrow flakes; the twigs, leaf-stalks and flower-clusters are densely scurfy. Its narrow leaves are rather thin in texture, from 2 to 10 centimeters long, short-stalked, 3-nerved, with delicate, spreading, lateral veins; the upper surface is dull green and smooth, the underside ashy-hairy. The short-stalked flowers are few together in loose clusters at the ends of the twigs; the calyx is about 5 millimeters long, its lobes short and blunt; the white petals are about 10 millimeters long; the anthers are yellow and 5 or 6 millimeters long. The berries are 4-lobed, depressed-globose, 6 to 8 millimeters thick.
Our illustration was first published in "Addisonia", plate 443, December, 1928.
Melastoma elaeagnoides Swartz, Prodromus 72. 1788.
Tetrazygia elaeagnoides De Candolle, Prodromus 3: 173. 1828.