Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Bursera simaruba

(L.) Sarg., Gard. & Forest 3:260.1890

Naked Indian, Almácigo, Carate, Huechichi, Indio desnudo

Dioecious or polygamodioecious tree, 5-25 m tall, to ca 40 (100) cm dbh; bark coppery red, shiny, thin, peeling to expose green layer beneath; sap, at least of fruit, very aromatic. Leaves pinnate, deciduous, clustered at apex of branches, densely woolly when young to glabrate except on veins below in age; petioles to 14 cm long; leaflets 5-7 (9), ovate-elliptic to lanceolate-elliptic (terminal ones usually obovate), long-acuminate, inequilateral and ob­tuse to rounded at base, 4.5-14.5 cm long, 2.5-8 cm wide, entire. Flowers 3-5-parted, functionally unisexual, in axillary raceme-like panicles (sometimes appearing ter­minal before leaves appear), appearing ± with new leaves; calyx bowl-shaped, shallowly 5-lobed, the lobes acute to blunt; petals greenish-white, narrowly ovate, acute, cucullate, 2-3 mm long, spreading at anthesis, later recurved; stamens twice the number of and shorter than petals, those opposite the petals usually ± spreading, the alternate ones erect; pollen golden-yellow, covering all sides of anther at anthesis; pistillode ovoid, white, glabrous, scarcely longer than weakly lobed and undulate disk. Capsules drupaceous, ellipsoid, obtusely 3-sided, maturing reddish-brown, ca 1 cm long, a single valve fall­ing free at maturity to expose the pyrene, followed by both remaining valves falling off as a unit, leaving the pyrene attached at base; pyrene 1(2), 1-seeded, 3-angled, bony, lenticular-ovoid, white, ca 7 mm long. Croat 5325.

Occasional, but locally common, especially along the shore on the northwest side of the island and on Orchid Island. Flowers in the late dry and early rainy seasons (March to the middle of June), just before or during the onset of new leaves. Mature fruits may be seen through­ out much of the year, but most fruits mature during the late rainy or early dry seasons of the following year, generally after the plant has lost its leaves. Most trees are bare by February, beginning to put on new leaves and flowering by March or April. Allen (1956) reported that the trees are leafless throughout most of the dry season in Costa Rica.

Easily recognized by the reddish-brown, papery bark. Southern Florida and northeastern Mexico to Colom­bia, Venezuela, and the Guianas; West Indies. In Panama, a characteristic species in tropical moist forest (Tosi, 1971), known all along the Pacific slope; known also from from premontane dry forest in Coclé, from tropical dry forest in Los Santos, Coclé, and Panama, and from pre­montane moist forest in the Canal Zone and Panama. Reported from tropical wet forest in Costa Rica (Hol­dridge et al., 1971).

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Bursera simaruba fruit
  • Bursera simaruba Infructescences
  • Bursera simaruba seed-wet
  • Bursera simaruba
  • Bursera simaruba
  • Bursera simaruba
  • Bursera simaruba Bark