Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Pachira aquatica

Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane Fr. 2:726, t. 291, 292. 1775

Provision tree, Sapote longo

Evergreen tree, to 23 m high and 70 cm dbh, often but­tressed; outer bark hard, planar, thin, with weak distant vertical fissures; inner bark thick, reddish, marbled with white. Leaves palmately compound, glabrous; stipules ovate, ca 1 cm long; petioles to 24 cm long, often ribbed, swollen at both ends; leaflets   5-7 (9), oblong-obovate to elliptic, caudate-acuminate to apiculate at apex, tapered to an acute base and decurrent on petiolule, 5-29 cm long, 3-15 cm wide, whitish-lepidote especially below. Flowers sweetly aromatic, usually solitary in upper axils; pedicels stout, 1-5.5 cm long; calyx ± tubular, truncate, the lobes obscure; petals 5, valvate, linear, greenish-white to brown, 17-34 cm long, ca 1.5 cm wide, curled outward at anthesis, stellate-puberulent outside, glabrous to vil­lous inside; stamens many, scarlet in apical third, white basally, erect to spreading, slightly shorter than petals, variously united in small clusters basally to middle, the clusters finally uniting with staminal column; anthers horseshoe-shaped, dehiscing by straightening; ovary broadly ovoid, ca 1 cm long; style colored like stamens but several cm longer; stigma of 5 tiny lobes. Capsules reddish-brown, elliptic, oblong-elliptic, or subglobose, shallowly 5-sulcate, mostly to 20 (30) cm long and 10 (12) cm wide, the valves 5, densely ferruginous outside, appressed-silky-pube scent within; seeds usually 2 or 3 per carpel, irregularly aagulate, mostly 3-4.5 cm long at maturity, brown, buoyant, embedded in solid, white, fleshy mesocarp. Croat 5613.

Known only from the edge of the lake. Flowers to some extent all year, mostly from February to April (sometimes from December to July). Most fruits mature from March to August. New leaves appear around May.

The buoyant seeds are no doubt dispersed by water currents.

Southern Mexico to northern Peru and Brazil; culti­vated in the West Indies. In Panama, a characteristic species in tropical moist and tropical wet forest areas (Tosi, 1971), forming small, pure stands in Darién (Hol­dridge & Budowski, 1956) and usually growing beside fresh water; known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Bocas del Toro, Colon, Panama, and Darién, from premontane wet forest in Panama, and from tropical wet forest in Colon. Reported from premontane rain forest in Costa Rica (Holdridge et al., 1971).

See Fig. 371.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Pachira aquatica Fruit
  • Pachira aquatica Flower Leaf
  • Pachira aquatica Fruit Leaf
  • Pachira aquatica Fruit Leaf
  • Pachira aquatica Leaf