8. CRESCENTIA L., Sp. Pl. 626. 1753; Gen. Pl. ed. 5. 274. 1754.

Small to medium-sized trees, usually weakly branched with an open canopy. Leaves simple or 3-foliolate, borne on thick twigs in alternate fascicles resulting from the condensation of short shoots. Inflorescence of 1 or 2 cauliflorous flowers arising from nodes on the trunk and older branches. Calyx large, usually bilabiately split; corolla off-white or tannish, usually with maroon penciling, especially on lobes and on the tube inside, broadly campanulate with a transverse fold in throat, the lobes deltoid, acuminate. Stamens subexserted; anthers glabrous, the thecae thick, divergent. Ovary ovoid-elliptic, lepidote, 1-locular; ovules multiseriate on 4 parietal placentae. Fruit a pepo or calabash, large, spherical, indehiscent with a hard woody shell, pulpy inside. Seeds small, less than 8 mm long and 9 mm wide, flat, not winged, embedded in the pulp.

Mexico, Central America, West Indies, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Amazonian Brazil, also widely cultivated; 6 species, 2 in Venezuela, both in the flora area.

The fruits of both species found in Venezuela are commonly used by Amerindians and other inhabitants to make utensils and containers for wet or dry foods.

Key to the Species of Crescentia

1. Fruit small, 4-7 cm diameter; native along the Río Orinoco and its tributaries ..... C. amazonica

1. Fruit usually very large, > 8 cm diameter; cultivated or escaped from cultivation ..... C. cujete

Crescentia amazonica Ducke, Arq. Inst. Biol. Veg. 4: 61. 1938. -Tapara, Tapara montañera, Totumo.

Small tree. Seasonally flooded riverside forests, 50-300 m; Bolívar (Río Chiguao, Río Nichare, Río Orinoco, lower Río Paragua), Amazonas (Río Casiquiare, upper Río Orinoco). Apure, Barinas, Guárico; Colombia, Peru, Amazonian Brazil. Fig. 367.

Crescentia cujete L., Sp. Pl. 626. 1753. -Cayadi, Taparo, Taparito, Totumo.

Small tree. Cultivated and naturalized, 0-200 m, occasionally higher; usually found near human habitations in Delta Amacuro, Bolívar, and Amazonas. Widely cultivated, the native range obscure, but clearly native at least in northern Central America and Mexico.


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