Seem., Bot. Voy. Herald 89.1853
Copey, Cope, Matapalo, Tar gum tree
Dioecious, hemiepiphytic tree, to 10 m tall; trunk to 15 cm dbh; branches spiraled, stiff and spreading, densely rooting at the nodes, the roots often extending back to the host tree and enveloping it for support; stems glabrous with prominent leaf scars; sap pale yellow to bright orange (in time), not copious. Petioles to 2 cm long; blades obovate, rounded at apex (sometimes acute to acuminate on juvenile leaves), acute to obtuse at base, 5-15 cm long, 3-10 cm wide, very thick, dark green and glossy above, dull below, coriaceous; veins indistinct, drying with many fine veins. Panicles stout, bracteated, divaricately branched, terminal; buds depressed-globose; pedicels stout, to 1 cm long; flowers thick, 5-parted, spreading at anthesis, to 4.5 cm diam, white to pink, the lobes often marked with maroon or magenta at base or apex; sepals 2, concave, unequal, persisting in fruit; petals 4-10, broadly oblong, 2-2.5 cm long; androecium of staminate flowers cushion-shaped, ca 1 cm wide and 5 mm high with numerous anthers; pollen white, granular, compressed in round or oval pouches ca 1 mm diam, embedded just beneath the sticky surface of the disk; pistillate flowers similar to staminate but the gynoecium divided into (4) 9 (15) segments, the petals falling soon after anthesis, the sepals closing. Capsules subglobose, 2.5-3 cm long, dehiscing into 5-9 parts at maturity; valves thick, ± spreading to expose the colorful mass of seeds; seeds numerous, reddish, curved-oblong, ca 5 mm long, embedded in a deeply divided, bright-orange aril. Croat 14957.
Frequent epiphyte in the forest or on exposed shorelines; epiphytic on rocks or on trees near the edge of the water. Plants are usually supported on tree trunks or large branches but their branches may grow into the top of the canopy. Apparently flowers and fruits sporadically throughout the year.
Where plants occur along the shore, the branches usually root at the nodes with the roots hanging in the water. The pollen sacs of the staminate flowers burst under the slightest pressure, and abundant pollen oozes out (sometimes explosively). Though the pollen is not at all tacky, the surface of the androecium is covered with an abundance of yellowish, tasteless, resinlike substance, which no doubt allows the pollinator to pick up pollen (perhaps on its feet). Several species of small bees, including Trigona spp., have been seen visiting the flowers.
Nicaragua to Panama, probably to Colombia. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Colon, San Blas, Veraguas, Herrera, Panama, and Darien, from premontane wet forest in Coclé (El Valle) and Panama (Cerro Campana), and from tropical wet forest in Coclé (La Mesa) and Panama.
See Fig. 387.