Bombacaceae

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Ceiba pentandra (L.) Gaertn., a canopy emergent in the Bombacaceae. Note the palmately compound leaves. Ceiba is common along watercourses, where it can grow to an enormous height. Un árbol emergente. Note las hojas palmaticompuestas. Ceiba es común en los bordes de cuerpos de agua, donde puede alcanzar una altura enorme.

Description: All of the Bombacaceae are trees, and most of them are large emergents with columnar trunks (i.e., not buttressed) and flat, spreading branches. Some have spiny trunks. The leaves are 3-veined (i.e., with three palmate veins at the base), palmately lobed, or palmately compound. The 3-veined genera (here, Quararibea) are difficult to separate from Malvaceae by vegetative characters. Fruit or flowers may be necessary for a positive identification. Bombacaceae almost all have large, white, night-blooming flowers that are pollinated by bats.

Economic uses: The abundant wind-dispersed seeds of Ceiba pentandra (kapok) were once a common stuffing material for life jackets. Ochroma pyramidale is the source of balsa wood, and balsa rafts are widely used for transportation in the Amazon.


Descripción: Todas las Bombacaceas son árboles, y muchas son emergentes con troncos columnares (es decir, sin gambas), y ramas que se extienden lateralmente. Algunos tienen corteza espinosa. Las hojas tienen tres venas principales en la base, o son palmatilobuladas o palmaticompuestas. Los géneros con hojas enteras (aquí, Quararibea) son difíciles de distinguir de las Malvaceas sin caracteres reproductivos. Son necesarios frutos o flores para determinarlas. Casi todas las Bombacaceas tienen flores grandes y blancas que abren por la noche y son polinizadas por murciélagos.

Usos económicos: Las semillas abundantes de Ceiba pentandra, dispersadas por el viento, presentan pelos sedosos que en el pasado se usaban para rellenar los chalecos salvavidas. La madera ligera de Ochroma pyramidale se usa en Amazonas para construir balsas, una manera de transporte muy común en esta zona.


Gen./spp. at La Selva: 5/11 (all trees/ todos árboles): Ceiba (1), Ochroma (1), Pachira (1), Pseudobombax (1), Quararibea (7).


FIELD MARKS – All have traits found in the large Malvaceae sensu lato, including alternate leaves, 3 main veins originating from base of leaf, serrate leaf margins, stellate hairs, mucilage, bark peeling in long strings, flowers with monadelphus stamens (fused along filaments).

Ochroma pyramidale “balsa” – huge cordate leaves, large stipules shaped like the seat of a racing bicycle, very short internodes (leaves closely spaced), stringy mucilage, stellate hairs, huge white flowers


Tabebuia species with opposite palmately compound leaves.
Tabebuia species with opposite palmately compound leaves.
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