Monographs Details: Lecythis zabucaja Aubl. [ined.]
Authority: Prance, Ghillean T. & Mori, S. A. 1979. Lecythidaceae - Part I. The actinomorphic-flowered New World Lecythidaceae (Asteranthos, Gustavia, Grias, Allantoma & Cariniana). Fl. Neotrop. Monogr. 21: 1-270. (Published by NYBG Press)
Family:Lecythidaceae
Synonyms:Lecythis validissima Miers, Lecythis venusta Miers, Lecythis tumefacta Miers, Lecythis crassinoda Miers, Lecythis lecomtei Pamp., Lecythis davisii Sandwith, Lecythis davisii var. gracilipes Eyma, Lecythis hians A.C.Sm.
Description:Description - Large trees, to 55 m tall. Twigs glabrous or puberulous when young, when glabrous then markedly lenticellate. Bark brown to grayish-brown, with deep vertical fissures, the outer bark laminated, the sapwood creamish to yellowish-white, the heartwood usually reddish-brown. Leaves deciduous; leaf blades narrowly to widely elliptic, 6-11.5 x 2-5.5 cm, glabrous, chartaceous, with 10-16 pairs of lateral veins; apex acuminate; base obtuse, very narrowly decurrent onto petiole; margins crenate; petiole 3-10 mm long, puberulous or glabrous. Inflorescences of racemes, 1-2 arising from same point or, less frequently, of paniculate arrangement of racemes, usually from young twigs below leaves but sometimes more or less terminal, with 5-30 flowers, the rachis 4-10.5 cm long, with or without conspicuous lenticels; pedicels 3-5 mm long, glabrous or puberulous, subtended by a leaf or a caducous bract, with two ovate to oblong caducous bracteoles 2-2.5 x 2 mm inserted near base. Flowers 4-5 cm diam.; calyx with six, very widely to widely ovate, green lobes, 5-10 x 59 mm; petals six, very widely to widely obovate, 15-25 x 15-19 mm, usually yellow, less frequently white, often with purple at margins and apex; hood of androecium flat, 10-20 x 16-20 mm, yellow, less frequently white, with well developed appendages, the proximal ones with anthers, the distal ones antherless, the pollen of hood turning black with age; staminal ring with 370-510 stamens, the filaments 1.5-2 mm long, dilated at apex, yellow, the anthers 0.5 mm long; hypanthium usually puberulus, sometimes glabrous; ovary 4-locular, with 12-26 ovules in each locule, the ovules inserted on lower of septum, the style 1.5-2 mm long, with slight annular expansion towards apex. Fruits globose or turbinate, always slightly wider than long, 6-16.5 x 7.5-17.5 cm, the pericarp 1-2.5 cm thick, the calycine ring usually more or less prominent; operculum convex. Seeds fusiform, 2-4 x 1-1.5 cm, with 4-6 sulci, the seed coat rugulose, the cord-like funicle surrounded by fleshy aril.

Discussion:The seeds of L. zabucaja are edible but difficult to collect because they are taken from the fruits at maturity by animals. Bats probably play an important role in the dispersal of the seeds in much the same way as has been described for L. pisonis (see discussion of L. pisonis).

Aublet’s description of Lecythis zabucaja includes elements of the common, yellow-flowered, large-fruited Sapucaia with edible seeds of the Guianas (common name, habit, fruits, seeds, uses of his protologue) for which I have previously used the name L. tumefacta (Mori & Prance, 1981a), Eschweilera pedicellata (Richard) Mori (flowers and leaves of his protologue), and E. grandiflora (Aublet) Sandwith (flowers of his illustration). Howard (1983) has pointed out that it was not uncommon for Aublet to have based his illustrations and text of what he thought to be a single species on what actually was a mixture of several species.

The name “zabucaja” is derived from the Brazilian word “Sapucaia” which is used for a group of four closely related species of Lecythis with edible seeds (Mori & Prance, 1981a). The “Sapucaia” of Marcgrave (1648) refers to L. pisonis and not the common Guianan species under consideration here. In addition, the French common names for this species cited by Aublet, “canari macaque” and “marmite de singe,” also refer to the species with edible seeds. In his protologue, Aublet refers to the Portuguese (Brazilians) as using the capsules for pots and as extracting oil from the seeds. Consequently, it is clear that Aublet intended his L. zabucaja to refer to the large-fruited Lecythis with edible seeds which is common but widely scattered in the forests of French Guiana.

It is difficult to typify this name because Au-blet’s reference to Plate 285 in the protologue leads to a composite plate (including plates 283, 286, 287) in which three different species are illustrated. Plate 283 depicts the fruit of the “Sapucaia,” the species under consideration, but Aublet also refers to this plate in his protologue of Lecythis grandiflora. A further complication is that in his protologues of L. grandiflora and L. zabucaja he refers to plate 284 as representing the flowers of both species. They are, however, a true representation of L. grandiflora (=Eschweilera grandiflora). Plate 288, also referred to in the protologue of L. zabucaja, represents the leaves and inflorescence of Eschweilera pedicellata. The identity of plate 288 is supported by the Aublet collection at the BM which, although labelled as L. zabucaja, is in fact E. pedicellata.

In order to follow Aublet’s intention when he described the species, I have chosen to lectotypify this name with plate 283. Selection of the BM sheet, as was done by Knuth (1939), would result in L. zabucaja being applied to Eschweilera pedicellata, a species with small fruits and bitter, inedible seeds.

I have changed the spelling of zabucajo to zabucaja to conform to the gender of the generic name.

Lecythis zabucaja exhibits considerable variation in fruit size and form (Fig. 93). The fruits of Venezuelan and Guyanan individuals tend to have more pronounced calycine thickenings and the supracalycine zone of specimens from Surinam usually forms an angle greater than 45 degrees. Similar fruit variation is found in most large-fruited species of Neotropical Lecythidaceae (Mori & Prance, 1981a). Petal color varies from completely yellow, to yellow or white at the base and purple at the apex, to entirely white. The androecial hood is usually yellow.

Seedling leaves are markedly narrower, more serrate, and more sessile than adult leaves.
Distribution:Venezuela South America| Amazonas Venezuela South America| Bolívar Venezuela South America| Delta Amacuro Venezuela South America| Guyana South America| Suriname South America| French Guiana South America| Ecuador South America| Amazonas Ecuador South America| Morona-Santiago Ecuador South America| Brazil South America| Amapá Brazil South America| Amazonas Brazil South America|

Common Names:Castanha Sapucaia, sapucaia, canari macaque, kouatapatou, marmite de singe, quatele, zabucaio, monkey pot, wadaduri, kwatapatoe, coco de mono, ti-najito