Olacaceae

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Description: A pantropical family of trees and shrubs, with one liana. The Olacaceae of this region have simple, alternate, entire leaves, often with U-shaped petioles that reveal a trace of white latex when broken. It is difficult to find characters that unite the entire family, perhaps because Olacaceae are a paraphyletic group (Stevens 2005). That is, the family includes some, but not all, the descendents of a common ancestor. In fruit or flower, the Olacaceae are rather distinctive due to their expanded, often flattened calyx (the outer whorl of the flower).

Economic uses: Minquartia guianensis, or manú, is a timber tree with very hard, durable wood that resists rotting. It is rare to find mature manú trees outside of nature reserves now, because of intense logging in the past. Currently, though, the tree is protected through CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), and its abundance in naturally regenerating forests (R.L. Chazdon, pers. comm.) may allow it to flourish in the future.


Descripción: Una familia con una distribución pantropical, compuesta por árboles arbustos y una especie que es un bejuco leñoso. Las Olacaceas de esta zona tienen hojas simples, alternas, y muchas veces con peciolos en la forma de “U” que al romperlos liberan savia blanca poco abundante. Es difícil encontrar características compartidas para toda la familia, quizás porque las Olacaceas son un grupo parafilético (Stevens 2005); es decir, el grupo incluye unos, pero no todos los descendientes de un antepasado común. Los frutos y flores de las Olacaceas son distintivos: el caliz (el verticilo exterior de la flor) es ancho y aplastado.

Usos económicos: Minquartia guianensis, o manú, es un árbol maderable con madera muy dura y resistente. Actualmente es difícil encontrar árboles grandes de manú fuera de áreas protegidas al ser cortados casi todos los especimenes de este árbol magnífico. Está incluido en la lista de especies amenazadas en Costa Rica, pero los latizales de manú son bastante comunes en bosques en regeneración y en pastos abandonados (R.L. Chazdon, comm. pers.), así que en el futuro esta especie podría recuperarse y prosperar.


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