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Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana

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11. MORONOBEA Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane 788, t. 313. 1775.

by Denis M. Kearns and Paul E. Berry

Medium to large trees, glabrous; latex yellow. Leaves opposite, with well-developed intersecondary and tertiary veins subparallel to secondary veins. Flowers terminal, solitary, bisexual. Sepals 5; petals 5, broad, tightly contorted. Stamens in 5 fascicles, 3-5 stamens per fascicle, straight or spirally twisted; filaments papillate, basally connate; anthers long, locellate. Ovary 5-locular, 3-10 ovules per carpel, but usually only 1 locule developing in fruit; style 5-radiate, with minute terminal pores. Fruit a glaucous green, subglobose, soft berry, usually with spiral markings. Seeds 1-few, large; cotyledons minute.

Tropical South America; 7 species, 5 in Venezuela, all in the flora area.

The resinous latex of Moronobea coccinea and M. riparia has been widely used by Amerindians of South America for caulking, as a mastic, and burned as a source of light.

Key to the Species of Moronobea

1. Leaf blade apex acuminate; flowers usually pink or reddish, sometimes white or yellowish ..... M. coccinea

1. Leaf blade apex rounded, obtuse, retuse, or rarely apiculate; flowers white or whitish, creamy greenish yellow, or rarely rose ..... 2

2(1). Stamens spirally contorted; fruit with matching spiral indentations; style 5-7 cm long, exserted ..... 3

2. Stamens erect and straight; fruit smooth; style 1-2 cm long, included or barely exserted ..... 4

3(2). Petals 3-5 cm long; leaf blades usually 6-8 × 2-4 cm ..... M. riparia

3. Petals 6-10 cm long; leaf blades usually 8-15 × 5-6 cm ..... M. jenmanii

4(2). Petioles 3-5 mm thick; leaves broadly elliptic to elliptic, not or only slightly punctate on lower surface; style 1.5-2 cm long, with style branches 8-10 mm long ..... M. intermedia

4. Petioles 1-2 mm thick; leaves oblanceolate, strongly punctate on lower surface; style 1.2-1.4 cm long, with style branches 2-3 mm long ..... M. ptaritepuiana

Moronobea coccinea Aubl., Hist. Pl. Guiane 788, t. 313 (excluding fig. a-j). 1775. -Symphonia coccinea (Aubl.) Oken., Allg. Naturgesch. 32: 431. 1841. -Mani, Peramán.

BR>Tree 10-20 m tall; flowers peach-red. Montane forests, ca. 1200 m; Bolívar (Cerro Guaiquinima). Eastern Colombia, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Peru (Loreto), Amazonian Brazil. Fig. 220.

Moronobea intermedia Engl., Timehri 5: 189. 1886.

Tree 5-20 m tall; petals white, pink-tinged at apex. High-tepui scrub, 2000-2300 m; Bolívar (Cerro El Sol along Brazilian border, Ilú-tepui, Roraima-tepui), Guyana (Mount Ayanganna). Fig. 221.

Moronobea jenmanii Engl. in Mart., Fl. Bras. 12(1): 467. 1888, "jenmani." -Tomillo.

Moronobea jenmanii var. fanshawei Maguire, Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 10(5): 127. 1964.

Tree to 40 m tall. Montane and lower montane forests, 500-1600 m; Bolívar (Cerro Venamo, Gran Sabana, La Escalera, Roraima-tepui). Guyana. Fig. 219.

Moronobea ptaritepuiana Steyerm., Fieldiana, Bot. 28: 395. 1952.

Moronobea ptaritepuiana f. rosea Steyerm., Fieldiana, Bot. 28: 397. 1952.

Shrubs or trees. Venezuela; 2 subspecies, both in the flora area.

Key to the Subspecies of M. ptaritepuiana

1. Leaf blades 3-5 × 1.5-2.5 cm, dark green ..... subsp. ptaritepuiana

1. Leaf blades 5-8 × 2-3.5 cm, pale green ..... subsp. neblinensis

M. ptaritepuiana subsp. neblinensis Maguire, Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 10(5): 127. 1964.

Tree to 12 m tall. Forests on tepui summits and slopes, 1300-2000 m; Amazonas (Sierra de la Neblina). Endemic.

M. ptaritepuiana subsp. ptaritepuiana

Shrub to tree 2-30 m tall. Forests on upland plateau and tepui summits and slopes, 800-1900 m; Bolívar (Gran Sabana and associated tepuis including Auyán-tepui, Macizo del Chimantá, Roraima-tepui). Endemic. Specimens with rose-colored petals from Carrao-tepui (Bolívar) have been called Moronobea ptaritepuiana f. rosea.

Moronobea riparia Planch. & Triana, Ann. Sci. Nat. Bot. sér. 4, 14: 296. 1860. -Brea, Maráke (Curripaco), Peramán, Peramán rebalsero.

Moronobea riparia var. fimbrillata R.E. Schult., Bot. Mus. Leafl. 17: 15. 1955.

Moronobea riparia var. piraparanensis R.E. Schult., Bot. Mus. Leafl. 17: 16. 1955.

Tree to 20 m tall, with a storied, conifer-like branching pattern; bark corky, shaggy; petals white, tightly contorted around the androecium at anthesis; stigma green. Locally common along seasonally flooded banks of black-water rivers, 100-200 m; Amazonas (along Río Atabapo and its tributaries, Río Baría, Río Casiquiare and tributaries, upper Río Negro-Guainía basin). Adjacent Colombia, one disjunct collection reported from Guyana.

Local inhabitants in the upper Río Atacavi area report that flowers of this species are visited by monkeys ("Mono chucuto," Cacajao melanocephalus Spix) and macaws. Humboldt noted a flourishing industry of resin extraction (utilizing Moronobea, presumably M. riparia, as well as other unrelated species) while visiting Yavita in 1800. Amerindians along the Río Guainía also collected Moronobea resin for use in constructing masks and as a source of fuel for torches.


Scientific Comments:
Paul Berry (peberry@facstaff.wisc.edu) or Kay Yatskievych (kay.yatskievych@mobot.org).

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