Colpothrinax aphanopetala R.Evans, Palms 45: 189 (2001)

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Extreme SE Nicaragua and on both the Caribbean and Pacific slopes in Costa Rica and Panama, 350-1,000(-1,400) m, typically in premontane, sometimes lowland, wet forests. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


  • Colpothrinax aphanopetala is easily and unambiguously identifiable when in flower, even if only in bud, or in fruit. The red calyx, small, pinktinted, membranous corolla lobes (unique among all palms in the subtribe Livistoninae), which are persistent in fruit, and three distinct, red carpels are diagnostic. The pinkish higher-order inflorescence branches also distinguish C. aphanopetala from both C. wrightii and C. cookii. The trunk of C. aphanopetala is not swollen as in C. wrightii. Based on the available data (Le., the relatively few, mostly incomplete herbarium specimens), C. aphanopetala, however, cannot be distinguished reliably from C. cookii when sterile. Although C. aphanopetala appears to have smaller leaf blades that are more deeply divided, at least laterally, and shorter petioles with smaller hastulas, the overlap between the two taxa for these characters is too great for them to be of any practical utility for identification purposes. This does not necessarily indicate, however, that C. aphanopetala and C. cookii have not diverged vegetatively. Extensive fieldwork involving detailed observations and measurements of individuals from multiple populations throughout the ranges of both species would probably yield subtle morphological differences in vegetative (and other reproductive) characters that cannot be represented adequately on herbarium sheets. This has proven to be the case with other genera of coryphoid palms (e.g., Cryosophila, see Evans 1995; Thrinax, see Read 1975). Fortunately, the floral morphologies of C. aphanopetala and C. cookii are so strikingly different that as long as flowers or fruit (with their persistent calyx and corolla lobes) are present, herbarium specimens are sufficient for easy and unambiguous identification to species. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


  • a C. wrightii trunco columnari differt; a C. cookii calyce rubello, curto; corolla plerumque curta, marginibus loborum adjacentium nunquam contiguis, lobis membranaceis; tubo staminum lato; gynoecio lato, carpellis rubellis differt. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A

Biology And Ecology

  • Colpothrinax aphanopetala is most frequently encountered on the upper slopes and crests of ridges of premontane wet forests above 700 m elevation, in association with Euterpe precatoria Mart. However, C. aphanopetala has been found to as low as 350 m elevation and sometimes occurs in areas with little or no topographic relief. For example, at Laguna Cote in Costa Rica C. aphanopetala is restricted to the lowlying, partially inundated margins of the lake, where it grows in saturated soil and emerges above a low-forest dominated by Astrocaryum alatum H. F. Loomis and Heliconia. Another noteworthy population of C. aphanopetala is that on Cerro Jefe in Panama. Adult C. aphanopetala in the windswept low-forest on Cerro Jefe are approximately half the size of typical adults elsewhere. The same phenomenon also appears to have produced the smaller-than-average C. aphanopetala found on the low, but isolated, often storm-swept Cerro El Gigante, which is only about 30 km inland from the Caribbean coast in extreme southeast Nicaragua.
    The reddish flowers of C. aphanopetala are visited by large numbers of a variety of bees [e.g., Trigona (Apidae: Meliponinae)] and flies (e.g., Syrphidae) during anthesis, suggesting one or both of these groups of insects as potential pollinators. One species of syrphid fly has been observed visiting flowers at various stages of floral maturation making them particularly likely pollinators since the stigmas do not appear to be receptive until after the anthers have fallen. Due to the small size of the corolla lobes in C. aphanopetala, the reproductive parts are never enclosed within the corolla as is the case with the probably beetle-pollinated C. cookii. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


  • The specific epithet refers to the small, membranous, and not readily apparent corolla lobes of this species. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A

Common Name

  • Udirbi ("Kuna"), guágara. [These names are cited on a single collection of C. aphanopetala from Panama (de Nevers and Herrera 4260). The name guágara was probably mistakenly attributed to C. aphanopetala, as it is commonly used in Panama and Costa Rica for the sympatric palmate-leaved palm Cryosophila warscewiczii (H. Wendl.) Bartlett.] (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


  • The only reported use for C. aphanopetala has been the leaves for thatching (de Nevers & Herrera 4260). (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


  • Trunk (12-)15-ca. 20 m tall, erect [2.5-10(-15) m tall, sometimes decumbent basally, on Cerro Jefe, Panama], 15-25(-40?) em dbh, columnar, usually naked, sometimes, particularly in closed forest, upper portion partially or completely enclosed in a mat of persistent leaf-sheath fibers; trunks of juveniles less than ca. 6-8 m tall usually completely enclosed in this mat; mat, when present, usually 20-30 em thick. Leaves 12-ca. 30; petiole (0.5-)1-1.5(-2) m long, 2.1-3.9 em wide at attachment to blade; sheath tomentose, the trichomes of two intermixed types: 1) soft, stellate trichomes, ca. 0.5 mm long, basally ferruginous, with free, white distal ends and 2) coarser, longer, wavy, twisted, compressed trichomes, these longer trichomes sparsest, shortest (ca. 1.5 mm long), and lightest in color (± tannish) on the basal portion of the sheath, becoming progressively denser, longer (to 9 mm long), and darker (rufous) distally; sheath disintegrating and fraying into fine, loosely woven, pendulous, filiform, typically ± terete fibers, 0.3-0.5 mm diam.; hastula appressed to or slightly elevated above the blade, 1.6-3.0 x 1.9-4.3 em, 1.1-1.6 times as wide as long, very broadly to depressed-triangular, usually cuspidate apically; costa (12.0-)17.5-28.0 em long; blade 95-152 em long centrally, 36-74 em long laterally, divided into single-fold segments, except for lateral-most 1(-5) segments of each blade half composed of 1-2(3) folds; central division extending to within 33-70 em of (1/2-2/3 to) base, the lateral-most division extending to within 6.5-10.5(-23.5) em of [ca. (2/3-)7/8 to] base; folds per blade half 26-35; widest single-fold segment 4.1-6.0 em wide. Inflorescences with flowers or fruit to ca. 5, plus ca. 5 marcescent per individual; primary-axis 1.5-1.9 m long; inflorescence bracts lanate, with trichomes 2-8 mm long; peduncle 0.4-0.7 m long; prophyll18.0-28.0 x 7.0-10.0 em; peduncular bracts 4-6, 21.0-43.5 em long; rachis 1.1-1.3 m long; rachis bracts 9.5-49.0 em long; first-order branches (5-?)8-12; axes creamy pink, their primary-axes 11.5-77.0 em long, with unbranched proXimal portion 6.5-48.0 em long, the branched distal portion 2.5-38.0 em long; prophyll 9.5-46.0 em long; rachillae typically 30-50 per basal first-order branch, < 10 per apical first-order branch, 2.0-15.0 em long, tomentose, the trichomes (tannish to) ferruginous, 0.2-0.3 mm long; flower-bearing spurs 0.2- 0.4 mm long, the subtending bracteole 0.5-1.2(-1.6) mm long, 0.3-0.9 mm wide basally. Floral receptacle 0.9-1.7 mm long; calyx 2.7-3.4 mm long, free distally from corolla for 1/4-1/2 its length, reddish with some yellow distally, the lobes 0.3-0.9 mm long; corolla 2.9-4.2 mm long, connate basally for 1/3-1/2 its length, mostly pinkish, creamy yellow marginally below apex, adjacent lobes never touching, the lobes attenuate with acute apices, membranous, adaxially plane with slight apical thickening, persistent, filaments 2.0-3.8 mm long, connate basally for 0.6-2.0 mm (1/3-3/5 their length), cream-colored, stamen-cup shorter than or ± same length as calyx-cup, 2.4-3.0 mm diam., anthers 2.7-4.4 x 0.8-1.1 mm; pollen 25-30 x 20-30 pm, tectum on non-apertural face coarsely perforate to reticulate; gynoecium 2.5-3.5 x 1.6-2.1 mm, carpels 1.1-1.8 x 0.9-1.4 mm, reddish, styles 1.4-2.0 mm long, cream-colored. Fruit 1.6-2.1 cm diam. Seed 1.0-1.3 x 1.2-1.5 cm. (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A

Materials Examined

  • NICARAGUA. Rio San Juan. Reserva Indio Maiz, Municipio de San Juan del Norte, Cerro El Gigante, lOo46'N, 83°53'W, Rueda et al. 4537 (MO), 9042 (MO). COSTA RICA. Alajuela. Cordillera de Tilaran, northern margins of Laguna Cote, 100 34'30"N, 84°54'30"W, Evans et al. 2751 (BH, MO); Guatuso Canton, Cordillera de Tilaran, Laguna Cote,S km norte de Finca Cote Hotel Ecolodge, lOo35'20"N, 84°55'50"W, Rivera & Petruzzi 2897 (INB, MO, US). Limon. Parque Internacional La Amistad, Fila Tsiurabeta, entre Rios Uren y Lari, 9°27'30"N, 83°00'OO"W, Chacon 290 (CR, INB); Reserva Indigena Talamanca, 9°2TOO"N, 82°59'30"W, Hammel et al. 17623 (CR). Puntarenas: Canton de Parrita, Fila Chonta, camino de San Marcos de Tarrazu a Cerro Cura, La Virgen, y Fila Chonta, 9°35'N, 84°10'W, Hammel et al. 21192 (INB); Canton de Parrita, Cuenca del Pirris-Damas, Fila Chonta, Sector SE, 9°35'05"N, 84°1O'25"W, Morales & Abarca 6298 (INB, MO). PANAMA. ChiriquI. Fortuna Dam area, along Quebrada Los Chorros, to N of reservoir, 08°45'N, 82°14'W, Churchill & Churchill 6035 (MO, US). Code. continental divide N of Penonome on road to Codesito, small patch of forest at roadside, Hammel 4033 (MO). Panama. On road near slopes of Cerro Jefe, Antonio et al. 3384 (MO); Cerro Jefe, Carrasquilla 2134 (PMA), Dressler 2898 (BH, US), 3607 (PMA, US), Henderson & Bemal2054 (NY, PMA), Henderson & Ferreira 3046 (NY, PMA), Moore et al. 10519 (BH); Cerro Jefe, summit near radio towers, 09°14'N, 79°23'W, Churchill 3930i 2.4 mi beyond Cerro Jefe on road to Altos de Pacora, along flat area before reaching summit, Croat 22669 (K, MO, NY)i Cerro Jefe, along road W of hilltop, Hammel 4401 (BH, MO)i road to Cerro Jefe, at turnoff to Alto Pacora, Henderson & Herrera 702 (BH, K, NY); E slope of Cerro Jefe, 10.5 km by road NE of Cerro Azul, Nee 11451 (BH, MO)i summit of Cerro Jefe, Read et al. 79200 (US). San Bias. El Llano-Carti, 5 km beyond Nusagandi, Henderson 083 (PMA); Road El Llano-Carti Road, 24.5-25 km from Interamerican Hwy., near continental divide, Mori & Kallunki 5560 (MO); El Llano-Carti Road, 22-24.5 km from Interamerican Hwy., 9°19'N, 78°5S'W, de Nevers & Herrera 4260 (MO); Cerro Brewster, 9°18'N, 79°16'W, de Nevers et al. 4023 (MO), 5567 (MO, PMA), 6305 (NY). (Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax)A


    A. Evans, R.J. 2001: Monograph of Colpothrinax