Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Cryosophila warscewiczii

(H. Wendl.) Bartl., Publ. Carnegie Inst. Wash. 461:38.1935

Acanthorrhiza warscewiczii H. Wendl.; C. albida Bartl.;

C. guagara P. H. Allen

Noli, Palma de escoba

Tree, to 10 m tall; trunks 10-15 cm diam above the en­larged base, much of the trunk bearing spines, at least when young, the spines simple or branched, to 16 (35) cm long, sometimes restricted to base of older plants. Petioles longer than blade, broadly canaliculate; blades round in outline, 1.5-2 m diam or more, palmately veined and irregularly lobed almost to base, lobed completely to base on lower margin, green and glabrous on upper surface, densely whitish-pubescent on lower surface, the trichomes so small and appressed as to appear glaucous (sometimes arachnoid with brown trichomes on veins); juvenile blades triangular in outline, deeply 2- or 3-lobed (more in age), densely arachnoid-pubescent.      Inflores­cences interfoliar, nodding, the spathelets (nodifronds) short, acuminate, densely woolly on outside, ultimately deciduous, the outer ones coriaceous, the outermost usually bearing 2 keels, the inner ones longer, each sub­tending a branch of the spadix, to 15 or 30 cm long, closely enveloping at least lower part of branch; spadix branches at least as long as broad, 30-75 cm long, the main axis stout, the branches very short or to ca 30 cm long, densely flowered; flowers bisexual, 3-parted, gla­brous; sepals oblong; petals broadly obovate to rounded, concave, 2.5-4 mm long, the margins thin, the sepals and petals stiff, erect, forming a narrow tube; stamens 6; filaments in pairs, flattened, broad and united at base, slightly longer than petals and cernuous near apex; an­thers ca 1 mm long, pendent on outside of corolla just above apex; pistils 3, narrowly ovoid, long-tapered to apex, curved outward just above apex; stigmas held just above.throat of corolla. Fruits round to obovate, mostly 1-2 cm diam, smooth, fleshy and white at maturity; peri­carp thin; seed 1, round, 8 mm or more diam. Croat 17017.

Common in some areas of the younger forest, especially on the east side of the island. Flowers from May to Octo­ber in Panama (as late as December elsewhere in Central America), chiefly in August. The fruits develop in 2 to 3 months, mostly between August and December. Popula­tions may flower twice in a year; those seen in flower in October had mature-sized fruits as well.

Recognized by the palmate leaves, the white fleshy fruits, and the branched spines on the trunk, which Bailey (1943) considered to be root thorns. Cryosophila albida Bartl. and C. guagara P. H. Allen cannot be considered distinct from C. warscewiczii, since key characters such as pubescence and fruit size are very variable.

Belize to Panama, no doubt also Colombia. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest on both slopes of the Canal Zone and in Panama and Darien; known also from premontane wet forest in Coclé (El Valle) and Panama (Cerro Campana) and from tropical wet forest in Darien. See Fig. 63.


Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Cryosophila warscewiczii seed-wet
  • Cryosophila warscewiczii
  • Cryosophila warscewiczii Fruit
  • Cryosophila warscewiczii Leaf
  • Cryosophila warscewiczii Trunk