Monographs Details: Nectandra cymbarum (Kunth) Nees
Authority: Maguire, Bassett & Wurdack, John J. 1964. The botany of the Guayana Highland--Part V. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 10: 1-278.
Family:Lauraceae
Description:Distribution and Ecology - Distribution. Large tree along periodically flooded river banks of the Amazon Basin, chiefly the Rio Orinoco, Rio Negro and their tributaries. BRAZIL. Amazonas: Fonte Boa, Froes 20667 (fr. NY); Cucuhy, ad ripas inundatas Rio Negro, Ducke 38 (fl. NY), Parana do Limao, Rio Negro inferior, 23963 (fr. US). VENEZUELA. Amazonas: occasional along Rio Casiquiare just below Capihuara, Wurdack & Adderley 43639 (fl. NY); Rio Orinoco between mouth of Rio Atabapo and Caño Masagua, 10 km upstream. Level 92 (fl. NY); en selva rebalsera, Boca del Caño Tamatama, Orinoco, Williams 15860 (fr. A, F, US); Bolivar: Temblador, Medio Caura, Williams 11686 (fr. F, US). COLOMBIA. Comisaria del Vaupes: riberas del Rio Papunaua, cinco kilometros arriba de su desembocadura en el Inirida, Fernandez 2325 (fr. US), riberas del Rio Inirida, alrededores del sitio llamado "Morichal," cerca de la boca del Rio Papunaua, 2034 (fr. US).

Discussion:

Ocotea cymharum H. B. K. Nov. Gen. Sp. 2: 132. 1817 [holotype, (non Poeppig ex Nees; non Sprengel ex Nees.) Humboldt].

Licaria eymbarum Pittier, Bol. Soc. Venez. Ci. Nat. 7: 135. 1941.

Nectandra elaiophora Barbosa Eodriguez, Vellozia (1866-1888) ed 2. 64, 65. pi. 18. 1891 (holotype); emend. Ducke, Arch. Jard. Bot. Rio de Janeiro 4: 113, 114, f. 8. 1930. (Ducke 19956, lectotype,fl. NY).

Type. Crescit in sylvis Orinocensibus prope San Fernando de Atabapo, Amazonas, Venezuela, Humboldt & Bonpland [904] (holotype, fr. P ).

Vernacular Names. Louro inamuy (Ducke) ; Louro mamory (Froes) ; Sassafras (Ducke) ; Sasafras (Williams).

The leaves of the cited specimens are usually thinly membranaceous, sometimes in the fruiting stage becoming subcoriaceous; the venation is more or less inconspicuous except for the midrib, which is generally brownish in contrast to the pale green of the blade in the dried state. The leaves, however, vary in size and shape, the smaller being more broadly elliptic than the narrowly elliptic or sublanceolate-elliptic larger ones.

Ducke's emended description of Barbosa Rodriguez' species includes an illustration showing flowers and a fruit obviously copied from the plate of the original publication.

The notable lack of flowering material in comparison with fruiting collections—a universal complaint of students of the Lauraceae—is mentioned by Ducke as being due to the great height of trees in the area of his study and to the fact that the flowering season coincides with the period of greatest inundation along the rivers. Particularly interesting is the presence in the trunks of older trees of "vegetable gas," an "excessively clear, transparent, aqueous, highly aromatic oil with an odor of turpentine.'' This is used locally, according to collectors, for illumination and for medicine as well.

The much-discussed "N. cymharum," known only from fruiting specimens collected originally at San Fernando de Atabapo, is placed here at this time without hesitation, though future collections of flowering material from the region may reveal differences not now noted. The "cymharum" fruits are not to be distinguished from that illustrated by Barbosa Rodriguez, and the notes of several subsequent collectors also record the presence of oil Avith a turpentinelike odor. The apparent double margin of the cupule in all of the specimens cited above, including the fruits collected by Ducke after the publication of the species, although an outstanding characteristic of the genus Licaria, is found in several species that belong indisputably to Ocotea. As far as is known at present, this is its only recorded occurrence in Nectandra.

Near this species, if indeed not a variation of it, is Steyermark 56739 (fl. F ), collected in Merida, Venezuela, along the Rio Onia near Bolero, north of Mesa Bolivar. The leaves are definitely coriaceous, but the flower-structure is identical with that of the Amazon plants; the collector notes "strong turpentine-smelling heart wood from which oil is extracted for medicine.''

The Fernandez numbers cited more nearly approach Mez' interpretation of the species, as indicated hy his inclusion of Martins' collection from "Alto Amazonas" and illustrated in the latter's publication. The fruit-cupules, except for the proximity of the two margins, strongly resemble those of Martins' illustration. This characteristic of the cupules has not always proved reliable, however. A close examination of more mature fruits of Williams 11686 shows that the outer rim of some cupules has been broken, giving the appearance of greater proximity of the two margins. Possibly the Nectandra cymbarum of Martins' illustration represents a different phase of development under a variant situation. Certainly the leaves and branchlets show no significant differences. The vernacular name "Sasafras" appears on the Fernandez label, but no mention is made of the uses of the tree. Possibly Martius' plant m a y represent the fruiting stage of N. urophylla Meissner, based on Spruce 222, (Nect. 2) (fl.) collected at Santarem. Subsequent collections may shed light on this rather baffling problem.

Distribution:Brazil South America| Venezuela South America| Colombia South America|