Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Tetragastris panamensis

(Engler) O. Kuntze, Rev. Gen. P1.1:107.1891


Dioecious tree, to 35 m tall and 60 cm dbh, scarcely buttressed; outer bark rough, unfissured, flaky. Leaves imparipinnate; petioles flattened on upper surface, nearly glabrous; leaflets 7-9 (11), ± oblong-elliptic, acuminate, acute to nearly rounded at base (lateral leaflets often inequilateral), 5-20 cm long, 2-7 cm wide, nearly gla­brous, stiff, the midrib arched. Panicles axillary (or ter­minal by abortion of stem apex), loosely branched, 2-15 cm long, with most exposed parts ± appressed-­puberulent; flowers (4) 5-parted; pedicels ca 1 mm long; calyx cup-shaped, shallowly lobed, to 1.5 mm long; corolla yellowish-green, 3-5 mm long, lobed ca one-­third its length, the lobes acute, thick, erect; stamens (8) 10, included, abortive in pistillate flowers; disk annu­lar, (8)10-lobed; ovary ovoid, (4) 5-lobed and (4) 5-locular, sparsely pubescent; style short, pyramidal; stigma 5-lobed. Capsules drupaceous, purplish or reddish to brown, broadly turbinate to depressed-globose, round in cross section, to 2.5 cm long and 3.5 cm wide, usually with all 5 carpels developing, rarely 3 or 4, the thick wedge-­shaped valves red within, falling free at maturity; meso­carp spongy, sweet; pyrenes 1 per carpel, 1-seeded, ca 1.5 cm long (including aril), attached subapically and situated between slender, red, platelike partitions of the main body, covered with a fleshy, sweet, white aril ca 2 mm thick. Croat 6823, 11195.

Common in the forest. Flowers chiefly in June and July (rarely as late as August and September); individuals of the species may flower every two years. The fruits mature mainly from March to the middle of May (rarely to July).

On BCI, fruits are generally found on the ground, though usually only the star-shaped main axis and loose valves remain. The seeds are quickly taken by large birds and mammals.

Belize to Peru and Brazil. In Panama, ecologically variable; characteristic of tropical moist forest (Tosi, 1971), known in the Canal Zone, San Blas, Veraguas, Panama, and Darien; known also from tropical dry forest in Coclé, from premontane moist forest in the Canal Zone and Panama, from premontane wet forest in Pa­nama and Darien, and from tropical wet forest in Colón. Reported from premontane rain forest in Costa Rica (Holdridge et al., 1971).

See Fig. 303.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Tetragastris panamensis flower
  • Tetragastris panamensis flower plant
  • Tetragastris panamensis fruit-fragment
  • Tetragastris panamensis fruit
  • Tetragastris panamensis fruit
  • Tetragastris panamensis fruit
  • Tetragastris panamensis immature-fruit
  • Tetragastris panamensis seed-dry
  • Tetragastris panamensis seed-wet
  • Tetragastris panamensis seed-wet