Myristicaceae

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Description: A family of medium to large trees, all characterized by simple, alternate leaves without stipules, and sap that oxidizes to a reddish color (blot it onto a piece of paper and wait for up to several minutes). The leaves are almost always distichous, and have a spicy odor when crushed. Many species also have stellate (star-shaped) hairs, visible through a hand lens. The most distinctive character of the Myristicaceae is their branching pattern. Many branches are produced at once, emerging in a whorl around the trunk, which gives the tree a pagoda-like architecture. Myristicaceae fruits are dispersed by both birds and mammals. Here at La Selva, spider monkeys (Ateles geoffryi) and toucans (Ramphaistros spp.) are particularly important dispersers of Virola.

Economic uses: Myristica fragans, native to India, is the source of nutmeg and mace. In the Neotropics, native people use many Virola species in the preparation of hallucinogenic drugs for ceremonies.


Descripción: Una familia de árboles medianos a grandes. Todos tienen hojas simples y alternas, sin estípulas, y savia clara que se oxida a un color rojiza (hay que poner una mancha de exhudado en una tela o una hoja papel y esperar unos minutos para verlo). Las hojas casi siempre son dísticas, y tienen un olor a especias cuando se les estruja. Muchas especies también tienen pelos estrellados que se puede ver con una lupa de mano. La característica más llamativa de las Myristicaceas es su ramificación. Las ramas son verticiladas, lo que le da al tronco una apariencia de pagoda. Los mamíferos y los pájaros dispersan las semillas de las Myristicaceas. En la Estación Biológica La Selva, monos araña (Ateles geoffryi) y tucanes (Ramphaistros spp.) son dispersadores muy importantes de los árboles del genero Virola.

Usos económicos: Myristica fragans, de India, es el fuente de la nuez moscada. En las zonas neotropicas, los indios usan varias especies de Virola para elaborar drogas halucinógenas rituales.


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