Monographs Details:

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)

Scientific Name:

Grias cauliflora L.

Grias fendleri Seem., Gustavia integrifolia Standl., Grias integrifolia (Standl.) R.Knuth, Grias pittieri R.Knuth, Grias gentlei Lundell, Grias darienensis Dwyer, Grias duckei Dwyer, Grias sternii Dwyer

Description - Trees, to 30 m x 45 cm; leaf-bearing branches to 23 mm in diam. Leaf blades oblanceolate, often with the margins somewhat concave towards the base, 35-110 x 7-28 cm, with inconspicuous reddish papillae or punctae abaxially, coriaceous, with 25-45 pairs of lateral veins; apices acuminate; bases narrowly cuneate or auriculate; margins entire, slightly revolute; leaves at end of growth flush smaller, with fewer pairs of lateral veins, more sessile, and more auriculate than leaves at beginning and middle of flush. Petioles lacking to 110 x 4-11 mm, semicircular in cross section, often canaliculate. Inflorescences fascicular, from small warty outgrowths on the trunk and large branches, with 2-4 flowers, the rachis mostly much reduced, infrequently to 25 mm; pedicels 3-20 mm, subtended by a single ovate or triangular, cucullate basal bract 1-5 x 1-5 mm and bearing just above the base 2 caducous bracteoles less than 1 x 1 mm. Flowers 2.5-5 cm in diam.; calyx enclosing the bud except for an apical pore, rim-like or of irregularly split lobes at anthesis; petals 4, oblong or obovate, 2 mm thick, ascending and cucullate at anthesis, 10-23 x 6-15 mm, white or creamy-white; androecium with 85-150 stamens in 3 concentric rows, the connate base 1-5 mm high, the outermost filaments 6-8 mm, the anthers 0.5-0.8 mm; ovary glabrous, (3-)4-locular, each locule with 2-4 ovules, glabrous or puberulous at the summit; style lacking; stigma with 4 lobes. Fruits fusiform, obovate, or pyriform, brown, 38-90 x 22-40 mm, the pericarp 5-8 mm thick. Seeds 35-50 mm long, x = 17.


Ecology. Grias cauliflora is an under story tree most commonly found in swampy areas or in riverbottom forests. In Jamaica, according to Guppy (1917), this species “is one of the most picturesque trees in the river scenery of Jamaica,” and Adams (1972) reports that it is “rather local and gregarious near streams and in marsh forest.” My observations of G. cauliflora in Panama and Costa Rica demonstrate that it is found in the same habitat in Central America.

In Central America its peak blooming period is from February through April.

Because of its riverine habitat the fruits of G. cauliflora often drop into the water where the seeds germinate. However, once they are carried into salt water they die (Guppy, 1917). Old fruits have been collected in the beach drift of San Jose Island, Panama (Plate 12, fig 4 as unidentified “seed” Johnston, 1949). The disjunct distribution of this species between Jamaica and Central America may be the result of a successful long range dispersal over water.

Sloane (1725, vol. 2, p 123) reports that the Spaniards used to eat the pickled fruits as a substitute for mangos, which may account for the Jamaican common name of the tree, Anchovy Pear. He adds that it is “sent from the Spanish West Indies to Old Spain, as the greatest rarity.” Schomburgk (1922, vol. 1, p 33) states that the fruits of G. cauliflora are sold in the markets of Georgetown. However, I have no collections to document the natural occurence of this species in the Guianas. The Grias tetrapetala of Aublet is actually Gustavia augusta and therefore can not be the source of the fruits Schomburgk saw in Georgetown.

Jamaica South America| Trelawny Jamaica South America| Saint Elizabeth Jamaica South America| Saint Ann Jamaica South America| Portland Jamaica South America| Belize Central America| Toledo Belize Central America| Guatemala Central America| Izabal Guatemala Central America| Honduras Central America| Atlántida Honduras Central America| Yoro Honduras Central America| Gracias a Dios Honduras Central America| Nicaragua Central America| Zelaya Nicaragua Central America| Costa Rica South America| Heredia Costa Rica Central America| Limón Costa Rica Central America| Puntarenas Costa Rica Central America| Panama Central America| Bocas del Toro Panamá Central America| Chiriquí Panamá Central America| Colón Panama Central America| Canal Zone Panamá Central America| San Blás Panama Central America| Darién Panamá Central America| Colombia South America| Antioquia Colombia South America| Chocó Colombia South America|

Common Names:

Anchovy Pear, Wild Tobaco, Bombowood, Wild Mammy, Cayhilla, Irayol, Jaguillo, Papallon, tabaco, Jaguey, Madre de Cocoa, Membrillo