Monographs Details: Licania heteromorpha var. perplexans Sandwith
Authority: Prance, Ghillean T. 1972. Chrysobalanaceae. Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 9: 1-410. (Published by NYBG Press)
Family:Chrysobalanaceae
Description:Description - Leaves ovate-elliptic, rounded to subcuneate at base, the reticulation lax; fruit globose, smooth.

Discussion:Several authors, notably Fritsch (1889) and Sandwith (1931), have commented on the amazing variability within this species, especially with regard to leaf and fruit morphology. This variation is far more extensive than in most other species of Licania. However, there is remarkably little correlation among the different variables. Thus, when several methods were used to examine the variation, none revealed any really distinct segregates. This species is widely distributed geographically and ecologically, and fortunately there is a large amount of herbarium material to work with. Analysis of the material available revealed four distinct varieties, each of which has rather restricted geographical distribution and may be defined by a number of small differential characters. These varieties correspond to former species or varieties. Variety glabra is most distinct at the extreme of its variation where the fruit is deeply costate and the leaves are narrowly oblong-lanceolate. However, it shows complete gradation into var. heteromorpha. Much flowering material lacking fruits of var glabra is almost indistinguishable from var. heteromorpha. The deeply costate fruit of var glabra is an important character for specific delimitation. However, within L. heteromorpha there is a complete range in this character from a terete unridged globose fruit to a deeply costate oblong one. The costate var glabra occurs in Amazonian Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. Outside this range there are occasional specimens with costate fruits in var heteromorpha, as in Steyermark 87282 from Delta Amacuro, Venezuela, and Wurdack & Monachino 41363 from the State of Apure, Venezuela. These two collections have slightly costate fruit, but much less than in typical variety glabra. The variation in the various leaf characters is similarly ill-defined. The fruit exterior may be velutinous or verrucose and glabrous. In the other species fruit indumentum is usually constant.

Often one can pick out two collections of L. heteromorpha and conclude that they represent two separate species. However, study of all cited material has revealed extraordinary phenotypic plasticity of this appropriately named species, suggesting a free exchange of genetic material across its entire range. Experimental study is called for, hopefully to shed further light on the genetic mechanisms of variability. Licania heteromorpha is a good example of an ochlospecies, as described by White (1962).

Licania prismatocarpa, described by Hooker (1867), has always been placed among the dubious species because of inadequate type material. Recently, topotype material of L. prismatocarpa has been collected (Schultes & López 9280). This matches and supplements the type well, and taken alone, appears to be rather distinct from L. heteromorpha. However, as with the other synonyms given under L. heteromorpha, L. prismatocarpa is linked to the total picture by a complete range of intermediates and cannot be regarded as a taxon separate from L. heteromorpha var heteromorpha.

There is a type of gall which appears to be very frequent on specimens of L. heteromorpha, occuring in most varieties. Galled material has been found throughout the range of the species (eg Persaud 94, Guyana; Sagot 843, French Guiana; Krukoff 5279, Brazil-Acre; Steyermark 87409, Venezuela-Delta Amacuro; Velez 2275, Venezuela-Apure).

Benoist (Bull. Mus. Nat. Hist. Paris 25: 513. 1919.) based his variety grandifolia on the larger size of the leaves of a single specimen (Martin sn). Since there is so much variation in leaf size throughout the range of L. heteromorpha, and since large leaved specimens are frequent, var grandifolia is considered as part of var heteromorpha.
Distribution:Guyana South America|

Common Names:Kairiballi, Kautaballiballi