Lecythidaceae

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Brazil Nut Family

Description: A family of trees characterized by simple, alternate leaves with serrate margins and extremely strong bark and wood. The twigs are almost impossible to snap. Most Lecythidaceae have ridged bark, a trait which is very common in temperate zone trees and quite rare in the tropics. Lecythis ampla is easy to recognize: an emergent tree with maple-like bark and hardly any buttresses. Its distinctive “monkey pot” fruits can usually be found nearby.

Economic uses: Strips of Lecythidaceae bark are often used as twine by native people and ribereños in Central America and the Amazon. Bertholletia excelsa, native to the Amazon basin, is the source of Brazil nuts, one of the most important wild-harvested forest products of South America.


Descripción: Una familia de árboles con hojas simples y alternas con las márgenes serradas, y corteza y madera muy fuerte. Es casi imposible romper las ramitas. La mayoría de las Lecythidaceas tienen la corteza fisurada, una característica muy común en los árboles de las zonas templadas pero bastante rara en lugares tropicales. Es fácil reconocer Lecythis ampla (jícaro): es un árbol enorme, con la corteza fisurada y el tronco casi sin gambas. Usualmente se encuentran los frutos leñosos “ollas de mono” cerca del árbol.

Usos económicos: Los indios de Centroamérica y amazonas frecuentemente usan la corteza fuerte de las Lecythidaceas como cuerdas. Las semillas de Bertholletia excelsa (nuez del Brasil), son un producto silvestre de gran importancia en Amazonas.


Genera/species at La Selva: 3/4: Eschweilera (2), Grias (1), Lecythis (1).


FIELD MARKSLecythis ampla ridged bark and “monkey pot” fruits.


Looking straight up into the canopy of Lecythis ampla.
Staring up the trunk of a massive Lecythis ampla on the CC trail.
Large Lecythis ampla (Monkey Pot) tree along SOR trail.
Furrowed brown bark in an uncommon trait in the tropics that is useful for identifying Lecythis ampla.
Large fruits of Lecythis ampla with a Boston Red Sox fan for scale.
A pair of “monkey pot” fruits that fell to the ground.
Fallen fruits of Lecythis ampla are known as “monkey pots” because monkeys reportedly reach inside to extract the seeds.
The alternate toothed leaves of Lecythis ampla are the least remarkable feature of this tree.


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Next family: Malpighiaceae > >
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