Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Piper imperiale

(Miq.) C. DC. in DC., Prodr. 16(l):339. 1869

Shrub or small tree, 2-5 m tall; upper internodes stout, with warty excrescences especially on nodes, these ex­tending onto petiole and midrib. Petioles usually 4-8 cm. long, vaginate nearly to blade; blades broadly ovate­-cordate, acute or short-acuminate, unequally lobed at base, mostly 30-50 cm long, 20-29 cm wide, glabrate or minutely puberulent above, glabrate to appressed­-puberulent below,                 short-crisp-vinous along veins. Spikes 30-50 cm long or more, to 1 cm thick; peduncles 4-6 cm long or more; bracts ± triangular, the apex prominently raised, densely ciliate, the cilia long, irregular, often denser on apical side; stamens 4, conspicuous. Fruits obovoid to oblong, glabrous; styles 3, slender, soon decid­uous, the stout, raised, stylar base persisting in fruit. Croat 12195.

Apparently rare, known only from the stream north of the Laboratory Clearing, probably occurring in ravines elsewhere. Spikes have been seen beginning to develop in the middle of the rainy season, flowering usually in the late rainy season or the early dry season. The fruits probably require several months to develop; mature fruits have been collected in other areas in March and June.

Easily distinguished by its cordate leaves and the warty excrescences on the stems and petioles.

Costa Rica and Panama; sea level to 2,000 m, but usu­ally 1,000-2,000 m. In Panama, known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, San Blas, and Darién, from tropical dry forest in Panama (Taboga Island), from premontane wet forest in Coclé, and from tropical wet forest in Colon, Panama, and Darien.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Piper imperiale