Flora of Barro Colorado Island

Vismia baccifera

(L.) Tr. & Planch., Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot., sér. 4, 18:300. 1862

Achiote tigre, Sangre de perro, Sangrillo, Pinta-mozo

Shrub or small tree, to 5 m tall older stems with reddish­brown flaky bark; younger stems, petioles, lower blade surfaces, sepals, and axes of inflorescences densely stel­late-tomentose with usually brown, sessile trichomes; sap yellow to bright orange, drying red. Petioles 1-2.5 cm long; blades extremely variable, mostly ovate to elliptic, acute to acuminate, obtuse to rounded or truncate at base, 7-17 cm long, 2.5-10 cm wide, green above, yellowish-brown to dark brown below (depending on extent of ferruginous pubescence), reddish-pellucid­-punctate. Panicles terminal, mostly to 8 cm long; pedicels ca 5 mm long; flowers bisexual, ca 1 cm long, 5-parted, without conspicuous aroma; sepals thick, 7-9 mm long, acute, valvate, closing to protect ovary after flowering, spreading in fruit, at least some with one or more margins thin and glabrous; petals obovate, round at apex, to ca 1.3 cm long, yellowish to transparent with vertical orange streaks, glabrous outside, densely woolly inside; staminal columns 5, exceeding styles, less than 7 mm long, alter­nating with short woolly staminodia; anthers many, directed outward against woolly inner surface of petals; pistil ovoid, becoming 5-lobed, glabrous, sometimes punctate; styles 5, diverging outward between staminal columns, persisting in fruit; stigmas capitate; nectar copious, stored chiefly in the calyx. Berries ovoid, ca 1.5 cm long, firm, green and fleshy at maturity, the styles, calyx, and weathered petals persisting; seeds many, cylin­drical, straight or curved, 2-2.7 mm long, in several vertical stacks, faintly reticulate. Croat 6695.

Abundant in older clearings; common along the edge of the lake. Apparently flowers twice per year. The prin­cipal flowering season is during the early dry season, with the first fruits maturing by late April. A second wave of flowering occurs during the early rainy season, mostly in July, with scattered flowering later in the rainy season; the fruits are apparently all mature before the end of the rainy season.

The species is quite variable in terms of both leaf shape and indument. Standley (1933) reported the species under three names, V. dealbata H.B.K., V. ferruginea H.B.K., and V. guianensis (Aubl.) Pers. V. guianensis does not occur on BCI. The white- and brown-leaved forms were treated by Ewan (1962) in his treatment of South American Vismia as the subsp. dealbata (H.B.K.) Ewan and subsp. ferruginea (H.B.K.) Ewan, respectively.

Small green halictid bees visit flowers of this species. The bee generally alights atop the corolla, pushes its way into the flower between the petals and staminal clusters, and generally disappears from sight. Leaving the flower, the bee may back out or turn around and come out frontwards.

Mexico to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, and Brazil. In Panama, ecologically variable; known from tropical moist forest in the Canal Zone, Veraguas, Pa­nama, and Darien, from tropical dry forest in Coclé, from premontane moist forest in the Canal Zone and Panama, from premontane wet forest in Panama, from tropical wet forest in Colón and Panama, and from premontane rain forest in Chiriqui and Panama.

See Fig. 394.

Photos from STRI Digital Archive

  • Vismia baccifera Inflorescence buds
  • Vismia baccifera flower-bud plant
  • Vismia baccifera flower-bud plant
  • Vismia baccifera flower
  • Vismia baccifera Inflorescence
  • Vismia baccifera immature-fruit
  • Vismia baccifera immature-Infructescences
  • Vismia baccifera leaf
  • Vismia baccifera
  • Vismia baccifera