Family: Placourtiaceae

Banara vanderbilti (palo de ramón)

Banara vanderbilti (palo de ramón)

Palo de Ramón is a very rare shurb or small tree.It is only known in Puerto Rico. It is characterized by: (1) undulate, elliptical or lanceolate, dentate leaves, 1½ to 5 inches (4-13 cm) long and ⅝ to 2 inches (15mm-5cm) wide, with 3 main veins from the base; and (2) hairy yellow flowers, solitary at the ends of the short lateral branches more than ½ inch (12mm) wide through pointy calyx lobules and 3 petals.

It is an evergreen shrub or small tree up to 30 feet (9m) high and with a trunk diameter of 5 inches (13 cm). Its branches are slender with thick hair; extended and yellow when young.

Its leaves are alternate, in small paired filiform stipules, and short and hairy petiole of about ¼ inch (6mm) long. Leaves are dull or rounded and often slightly unequal at the base, a long tip at the apex, prongs with few lateral curved veins at each side that protrude in the leaf underside, the lowest pair is parallel to the soft hair margin on both sides, which turn rough and almost hairless at the bundle.

Solitary flowers are at the ends of the short lateral branches with peduncles of ⅝ to ¾ of an inch (15mm-2cm) long. The calyx of about ¼ inch (6mm) long is made up of extended hairy triangular lobules and is persistent; 3 petals of ¼ to 5/16 inch (8mm) long. The pistil is composed of a hairless, rounded ovary, of one cell, with many ovules joined in four lines, slender curve style, and 4 tiny stigma. Bloom in May. Fruits have not been described but it produces berries with many seeds.

It is very rare in the limestone forests at an altitude of about 300 feet (91m) in Puerto Rico. It was first found near Cataño and Martín Peña and now only known two trees in lands near Bayamón.

This species honors Cornelius Vanderbilt (1843-1899), capitalist who financed the field work of the collector in Puerto Rico. Amos Arthur Heller (1867-1944), botanist from the United States, discovered this species near Cataño in 1899. Seeds of this endangered species should be collected for propagation in botanical gardens.

Author: Grupo Editorial EPRL
Published: August 27, 2014.

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