Araceae

From Rainforest Plants
Revision as of 18:15, 5 June 2008 by Afriberg (talk | contribs) (New page: {{Returntotable}} '''Description:''' A large and important family of herbaceous plants in the Neotropics, with many climbers and hemiepiphytes. The leaves are alternate, simple to palmat...)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Return to Plant Family ListReturn to Plant List.jpg


Description: A large and important family of herbaceous plants in the Neotropics, with many climbers and hemiepiphytes. The leaves are alternate, simple to palmately compound, and usually entire. Unlike most monocots, aroids can have reticulate venation (i.e., the veins form a network). Many species have caustic and/or foul-smelling latex. The inflorescence is unmistakable: a spadix (a stalk of many tiny, closely appressed flowers) subtended by a spathe (a single large, sheathing bract). Vegetatively, the family can usually be identified by its more or less succulent leaves and petioles, and the glossy sheen of its leaves. A good key to the aroid genera of La Selva Biological Station can be found in the OTS 96-9 course book, page 95 (available in the La Selva library).

As a former Carleton tropical ecology class discovered (see the 1998 course book, also in the La Selva library), water held in the leaf axils of the aroid Dieffenbachia longispatha is a favorite brood site for the “blue jeans frog” (Dendrobates pumilio).

Economic uses: Many aroids are planted as ornamentals. Monstera deliciosa, a hemiepiphyte, is cultivated for its fruit in Central and South America. The aquatic aroid Colocasia esculenta var. antiquorum, known as taro, was a traditional staple throughout the Pacific islands and is now grown in the Neotropics as well. Most Araceae are toxic, though, due to high concentrations of calcium oxalate crystals and other secondary compounds in their tissues.


Descripción: Una familia diversa e importante de plantas herbáceas en la zona neotropical. Contiene plantas trepadoras y hemiepífitas. Las hojas son alternas, simples a palmaticompuestas, y usualmente enteras. A diferencia de otras monocotiledóneas, las Araceas tienen venas que forman una red (en lugar de seguir paralelas). Muchas especies tienen savia cáustica o fétida. La inflorescencia es inconfundible: un espádice (una espiga con muchas flores pequeñitas y hundidas) y una espata (una bráctea grande que envuelve la base de la espiga). Estérilmente, se reconocen las Araceas por las hojas y pecíolos más o menos suculentos, y el brillo lustroso de las hojas. Hay una buena clave para los géneros de Araceas en la Estación Biológica La Selva en el libro del curso OET 96-9, p. 95 (disponible en la biblioteca de La Selva).

Un curso de ecología tropical de Carleton College descubrió que la rana “bluejeans” (Dendrobates pumilio) frecuentemente usa las cuencas de agua en las axilas de las hojas de Dieffenbachia longispatha para poner sus huevos.

Usos económicos: Muchas especies de Araceas se usan como plantas ornamentales. La hemiepífita Monstera deliciosa se cultiva en Centroamérica y Suramérica por sus deliciosos frutos. Colocasia esculenta, (malanga o ñampi), era una comida indispensable para los indios del Pacífica Sur, y ahora se cultiva frecuentemente en la zona neotropical. Sin embargo, la mayoría de las Araceas son venenosos, debido a altas concentraciones de oxalatos de calcio y otros compuestos.


Return to Plant Family ListReturn to Plant List.jpg