Monographs Details: Amphitecna apiculata A.H.Gentry
Authority: Gentry, Alwyn H. 1980. Bignoniaceae--Part 1. (Crescentieae and Tourrettieae). Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 25: 1-130. (Published by NYBG Press)
Family:Bignoniaceae
Description:Species Description - Small tree 4-13 m tall; branchlets conspicuously angulate when young, subterete when older. Leaves simple, alternate, narrowly obovate, acute to acuminate at apex, more or less cuneate at base, (10-)15-38 cm long, (3-)5-l 1.8 cm wide, (some leaves of every collection at least 20 x 6 cm), subcoriaceous to chartaceous, glabrous throughout except for a very few minute scattered lepidote scales, midrib raised slightly above and prominently below, secondary veins 10-15 on each side, usually separated by 1.5-2 cm, prominulous above and prominent below, the main veins usually drying tannish against a grayish-olive surface, petiole essentially absent. Flowers mostly terminal, sometimes in part ramiflorous from bracteate short-shoots, borne singly or in fascicles of 2 or 3, the pedicels slender, 3.5-5 cm long; calyx campanulate, 16-20 mm long, 910 mm wide, glabrous, irregularly 2-3-labiately split in upper third or half; corolla white, more or less tubular, barely exceeding calyx, 2.2-2.8 cm long, ca. 1 cm wide at top of tube, the lobes fused into an inconspicuous rim, lobes stalked-lepidote outside, tube glabrous outside, glabrous inside except a few stalked-lepidote glands near level of stamen insertion; stamens inserted ca. 10 mm from base of tube, the filaments 1-1.3 cm long, the thecae thick, hardly divergent, 3 mm long; ovary ovoid, 2 mm long, 1.5 mm wide, densely lepidote; unilocular except at base with the ovules on two parietal placentae; disc ca. 1 mm long and 3 mm wide. Fruit ovoid, more or less apiculate-acuminate at apex, rounded at base, smooth or rough-surfaced, 6-11 cm long, 4-5 cm wide; seeds thick, slightly bilobed, 11-14 mm long, 12-16 mm wide.

Discussion:Two questionable collections which may represent altitudinal extremes of A. apiculata are not included in the description and distribution of this species. Beaman 6404 (MO) from the summit of Cerro Vigia, Municipio Santiago Tuxtla, Veracruz, at 950 m, has larger more rigid coriaceous leaves than otherwise known for A. apiculata. This could prove a distinct species although only buds have been seen to date. A second problematical high altitude collection is Breedlove 34896 (DS) from 1200 m near Ixhuatan, Municipio Solosuchiapa, in northwestern Chiapas. This collection has unusually large leaves and an immature fruit. Both of these were previously listed as perhaps attributable to A. steyermarkii (Gentry, 1977b) but lack the oblanceolate leaves with a gradually long-tapering narrow base which prove definitive for that species. A sterile collection from Alta Verapaz (Steyermark 45080) which was listed as a paratype of A. steyermarkii is clearly A. apiculata on the basis of its lowland habitat and broader leaf base.

Acceptance of A. apiculata is contingent upon rejection of Amphitecna nigripes as a competing name for this species. Crescentia nigripes was first listed by Linden in 1863 in his Catalogue des plantes exotiques, No. 18. Linden’s inadequate description, entirely of sterile material, describes the leaves as reaching 75 cm in length and 25 cm in width, dimensions far in excess of those of A. apiculata. These dimensions suggest that Crescentia nigripes is synonymous with Amphitecna macrophylla. Although there are two other species of Amphitecna with leaves this large, one (A. megalophylla) was not known in Europe and the other (A. regalis) was described in the same publication as having even larger leaves over 1 m long and 30-35 cm wide. Crescentia nigripes was duly recorded in Index Kewensis (incorrectly citing Linden’s 1862 Catalogue (No. 17) rather than the 1863 one) and has since been regarded as a synonym of A. macrophylla.

There is a single leaf 44 cm long and 13 cm wide with a distinct, thick, 5 mm long petiole preserved at BM as Crescentia nigripes. This leaf derives from material collected by Ghiesbrecht in Chiapas and its identification is uncertain. In size it fits A. macrophylla better than any other species although none of the (only six!) leaves I have seen of A. macrophylla has nearly such a well-demarcated petiole. One atypical collection of A. megalophylla (see below) has a similar rounded leaf base but is otherwise unlike the “C. nigripes” leaf. This leaf may be of A. apiculata which can have a similar leaf base (especially in the upland form) but has smaller leaves. Although this leaf probably represents a plant distributed by Linden as C. nigripes, it is probably not the much larger-leaved plant he earlier described under that name. Its lack of agreement with the protologue suggests that it should not be considered to typify C. nigripes.

Subsequently Baillon (1882) published an illustration and complete description of a plant cultivated at Paris as Crescentia nigripes. Baillon’s plant, described as having leaves less than a foot long, is quite unrelated to C. nigripes Linden and is, in fact, A. apiculata, as proved by the illustration. There are several discrepancies in Baillon’s description, notably his emphasis of cauliflory, which suggest that he may have confused A. apiculata and A. macrophylla. Cultivated specimens of both species are filed together as A. nigripes at Paris, further suggesting confusion. Additionally there is a specimen in the Paris herbarium, annotated by Sandwith as the type of Amphitecna nigripes, which is from Teapa, Chiapas and belongs to A. apiculata. A second Linden collection of A. apiculata from Teapa, Chiapas, at Kew, has been designated by Sandwith as an isotype of A. nigripes. However it seems unlikely that Linden’s own collections from Mexico, made in 1838 to 1840 (Anonymous, “Les Explorations Botaniques de la Colombie,” Belg. Hort. 17. 1867), have any relevance to the plant he introduced into cultivation more than 20 years later. In any event Baillon apparently considered the plant he described to be the same as Crescentia nigripes Linden, though failing to cite an author, as was his custom.

To summarize, it seems probable that three separate gatherings belonging to two species are involved: An early collection of A. apiculata by Linden himself represents a plant not introduced into cultivation. Two later collections by Ghiesbrecht were introduced into cultivation by Linden the first described as C. nigripes and belonging to large-leaved A. macrophylla, the second belonging to A. apiculata but also distributed as C. nigripes.

Rejection of Crescentia nigripes as applicable to A. apiculata does not automatically solve the nomenclatural problem. Baillon’s article also suggested that Crescentia nigripes belongs to Amphitecna. An additional question must be resolved: Is Baillon’s Amphitecna nigripes intended as a new combination based on Linden’s Crescentia nigripes or should Amphitecna nigripes be considered a validly published new name based on the plant cultivated at Paris? In the former case, A. nigripes (Linden) Baill. is automatically nomenclaturally synonymous with A. macrophylla. In the latter case Amphitecna nigripes Baill. would be the oldest name for A. apiculata. The second interpretation is further clouded by Baillon’s failure to clearly indicate whether he considered Crescentia nigripes or Amphitecna nigripes to be the correct name for the taxon. Both the article and the illustration are entitled “Crescentia nigripes.” Amphitecna nigripes is used twice in the text and Crescentia nigripes once. In this context, Baillon’s: “C’est probablement au genre Amphitecna que doit etre égalment rapporté le prétendu Crescentia nigripes (Fig. 99); il devra donc prendre le nom d’Amphitecna nigripes” does not seem strong enough to prevent rejection of A. nigripes either under Article 34(1) of the Code as not accepted by its author or Article 34(3) as merely mentioned incidentally. Despite Baillon’s omission of an author citation for Crescentia nigripes, I opt to treat A. nigripes as based on the Linden basionym and thus nomenclaturally a synonym of A. macrophylla.
Distribution:Mexico North America| Chiapas Mexico North America| Tabasco Mexico North America| Veracruz Mexico North America| Guatemala Central America| Alta Verapaz Guatemala Central America| Petén Guatemala Central America|

Common Names:malocacao, tecomatillo, a-jo-nocht