Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Calathea lutea

(Aubl.) Schult., Mant. 1:8. 1822

Hoja Blanca

Caulescent herb, 2-3 m tall, mostly glabrous. Petioles 1.2-2 m long, the sheath less than 2 m long, geniculate at petiole, the pulvinus to 17 cm long, brownish; blades broadly elliptic to almost rounded, obtuse or abruptly acuminate at apex, obtuse to truncate and abruptly decur­rent at base, mostly 50-100 cm long (to 150 cm) and 25-60 cm wide, prominently whitish-pruinose on lower surface, the margins held ± erect. Inflorescences emerg­ing from sheath of subtending leaf; peduncles 6-17 cm long, unbranched; spikes oblong, ± flattened, 10-30 cm long, 3-5 cm broad; bracts yellowish when young,   red­dish or bronze in age, 2-ranked, imbricate, nearly orbic­ular, 3.5-5 cm long, often lobed at apex with mucronate point; staminodia usually pale yellow, occasionally whit­ish; petals 4-4.5 cm long. Fruits capsules; seeds orange, with a brilliant orange aril. Croat 6992.

Almost never in the forest except in tree-fall areas; occasional on creek beds and shoreline soil deposits. Flowers and fruits throughout the year, but activity is greatest during the early rainy season. The fruits develop quickly.

Distinguished by its leaves, which are white beneath, and by its oblong, somewhat rounded spikes. This is the most aggressive species of the genus, according to H. Kennedy (pers. comm.).

The species has been seen pollinated by euglossine bees and is robbed of nectar by hummingbirds. Coastal areas from Mexico to Peru and Brazil; prin­cipally in coastal marshes and disturbed areas along both coasts. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Colon, Chiriqui, Los Santos, and Darién, from tropical dry forest in Coclé, from premontane wet forest in Chiriqui and Panama (Cerro Campana), and from tropical wet forest in Colon (near Portobelo).

See Fig. 155.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Calathea lutea Inflorescence
  • Calathea lutea
  • Calathea lutea, inflorescences
  • Calathea lutea, flower
  • Calathea lutea, inflorescences
  • Calathea lutea
  • Calathea lutea
  • Calathea lutea flower
  • Calathea lutea flower