Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Capparis frondosa

Jacq., Enum. Syst. Pl. Ins. Carib. 24.1760

C. baducca sensu auct. non Rheed. ex L.

Shrub or small tree, to 5 m tall. Leaves simple; petioles quite variable in length, very short or to 20 cm long (variable even on the same branch), pulvinate at both ends; blades oblong-lanceolate to       oblong-oblanceolate, mostly acuminate, acute to obtuse at base, 4.5-22 cm long and 1.8-9 cm wide (variable in size even on the same branch); midrib raised above. Flowers in short racemes of few flowers in the upper leaf axils; pedicels 1-3 cm long (2-4 cm long in fruit); sepals 4, bluntly triangular, ca 1.5 mm long, open in bud, each with a minute disk gland at base within; petals 4, ovate, ca 1 cm long, obtuse at apex, white; stamens ca 100, 1.5 cm long; pistil oblong, ca 3 mm long, on a gynophore ca 1 cm long (ca 3 cm long in fruit). Fruits oblong, fleshy, tardily dehiscent siliques to 9 cm long, becoming maroon when mature, ca 1.5 cm wide, dehiscing irregularly lengthwise to expose seeds, the seeds ca 20, sticky, ± spherical, ca 8 mm diam. Croat 5861, 7802.

Common throughout the forest. Seasonality uncertain. Flowers in January and February and from July to Sep­tember. White-faced monkeys eat the fruits from Novem­ber to February (Oppenheimer, 1968), but fruits are also seen from March to May.

The species is distinguished by a combination of many­-staminate flowers, petioles of greatly differing lengths, and purple siliques borne on a gynophore.

Southern Mexicoto Peru and Brazil; West Indies. In Panama, ecologically variable; known from tropical moist forest on both slopes in the Canal Zone and in Los San­tos, Panama, and Darien, from tropical dry forest in Panama (Taboga Island), from premontane wet forest in Panama, and from premontane rain forest in Darien (Cerro Pirre).

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Capparis frondosa immature-fruit
  • Capparis frondosa leaf
  • Capparis frondosa seed-dry
  • Capparis frondosa seed-wet
  • Capparis frondosa
  • Capparis frondosa Fruit
  • Capparis frondosa Fruit
  • Capparis frondosa Fruit Leaf
  • Capparis frondosa Fruit Leaf
  • Capparis frondosa Fruit Leaf