Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Erythrina fusca

Lour., Fl. Cochinch. 427. 1790

E. glauca Willd.

Palo santo, Gallito, Bois immortelle, Palo bobo, Pito, Immortal

Tree, mostly 10-20 m tall; trunk ca 1 m dbh; outer bark grayish, coarse, sparsely covered with broad corky prickles; wood white to yellowish, moderately soft; branches glabrous, sparsely armed with short prickles; petiolar bases persistent, prominent; on juveniles, the prickles larger and extending onto petioles, rachises, and midribs. Leaves trifoliolate; stipules caducous; petioles 8-18 cm long; rachis 4-8 cm long; both petiole and rachis with 2 glands at their apices; leaflets ± ovate, ± rounded at both ends or acute at apex, glabrous above, with a dense mat of white appressed trichomes below, the ter­minal leaflet 8-14 cm long and 7-12 cm wide, the lateral leaflets smaller. Flowers thick, mostly 3 per node, in large, terminal, somewhat pendent racemes; pedicels stout, turned away from apex, ca 2 cm long; flowers showy, pale orange; calyx spathelike; standard spatulate, ca 5 cm long, reflexed; keel open at apex, ca 2.5 cm long, the wings somewhat shorter, greenish below, bright orange above; stamens diadelphous, green, gradually arched, about halfway exserted; filaments of 3 lengths in 5-4-1 arrangement, the free stamen one of the shorter 5; anthers held in an open pattern over the entrance to the nectaries through the open end of the keel; style bent sharply away from anthers just below apex; stigma usu­ally between the shorter 2 sets of anthers in length; nectar copious. Legumes ca 19 cm long and 2 cm wide, densely brown-tomentose, pointed at apex, weakly ribbed on margins; seeds several, ellipsoid, dark brown, ca 12 mm long, possibly expelled forcibly. Croat 8203.

Rare, on the shore. Elsewhere in the Canal Zone com­mon to locally abundant, generally near bodies of water. The leaves are deciduous shortly after flowering. Flowers from November to March, usually in February. The fruits mature from February to May, mostly in May.

The plant is probably hummingbird pollinated. The curare-like alkaloids erthraline, erythramine, and erythra­tine have been obtained from this species (Blohm, 1962).

Guatemala throughout the Amazon basin; West Indies; widespread in the Old World tropics. In Panama, known only from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Coclé, Panama, and Darien. The species some­times forms pure stands in freshwater marshes (Hol­dridge, 1970).

See Fig. 287.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Erythrina fusca Leaf
  • Erythrina fusca Flower
  • Erythrina fusca Flower
  • Erythrina fusca Gland
  • Erythrina fusca Flower Leaf
  • Erythrina fusca Leaf
  • Erythrina fusca Leaf
  • Erythrina fusca
  • Erythrina fusca
  • Erythrina fusca