Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Catopsis sessiliflora

(R. & P.) Mez in DC., Monogr. Phan. 9:625.1896

C. sessilifl ora var. dioica L. B. Smith

Dioecious (rarely monoecious) epiphyte; glabrous. Leaves ligulate, arching, divergent, rounded or obtuse and apicu­late at apex, to 22 cm long, 1.2-2.5 cm wide, obscurely lepidote, moderately thin, the outermost markedly reduced, acute at apex, becoming bractlike, often strongly recurved. Scapes generally much longer than leaves, erect, slender; scape bracts broadly elliptic, apiculate, erect, green, to ca 1 cm long, much shorter than inter­nodes; staminate inflorescences widely spaced, bipinnate, pyramidal, the axis flexuous to geniculate; branches as­cending, bearing many widely spaced flowers; rachis very slender; floral bracts ovate, 3-4 mm long, equaling or shorter than sepals; flowers spreading or subspreading; sepals asymmetrical, to 4.5 mm long; petals elliptic, ob­tuse, 4-6 mm long, greenish-yellow; stamens 6, in 2 unequal whorls, the filaments flattened; anthers slightly longer than broad; ovary ovoid, ca 1.5 mm long; style short; stigmas 3, slender, nonfunctional. Pistillate inflo­rescences usually simple, sometimes branched, 2.5-11 cm long; floral bracts broadly ovate, obtuse, much shorter than sepals, 3-7 mm long; sepals asymmetrical, sub­orbicular, 7-8 mm long, the apical edge discolored in age; petals free,        lance-ovate, only slightly exserted, not appendaged, white; style very short; ovary superior, broadly ovate. Capsules ovoid, short-beaked ,10-13 mm long; seeds ca 1.5 mm long, slender, with an apical coma, the coma to 3.5 cm long, pale brown, folded 2 or 3 times in the capsule. Croat 5230, 8263, Shattuck 604.

Occasional, in the forest; perhaps at one time more abundant on the island. Seasonal behavior uncertain, apparently flowers mostly in the rainy season. Fruits mature in the dry season.

Because of the dimorphic nature of the inflorescences, both sexes of this species have been described as distinct species and were regarded as separate taxa in the Flora of Panama (Smith, 1944). Dr. Smith (pers. comm.) con­curs in the reduction of the variety dioica, the name given the staminate form of the plant.

Southern Mexico to southern Brazil; West Indies. In Panama, known only from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone and Bocas del Toro.