CecropiaceaeCecropia family





Identification
  - Leaves alternate, with large fused stipules leaving a circular scar.
  - Leaves simple or deeply palmately lobed, often peltate, with many parallel tertiary veins.
  - stems jointed with hollow internodes.
  - Often with stilt roots or hemi-epiphytic growth form.
  - Dark latex in terminal twigs.
  - Flowers minute, lacking petals, grouped into heads or pencil-shaped inflorescences.
  - Fruit an edible aggregate with tiny embedded seeds.

Diagnosis: 1. Trees of secondary forest and gaps, trunk and branches hollow, often with biting ants, prominent nodes and leaf scars, with large fused deciduous stipules, leaves alternate, palmately lobed with numerous parallel tertiary veins. 2. Trees, hemi-epiphytes, rarely stranglers, with long fused deciduous stipules, leaves alternate, simple, with straight secondary veins, often pale below.

Local distribution: Widespread.

Similar families
Bombacaceae: leaves actually compound, not lobed.
Caricaceae: white latex, no stipules.
Euphorbiaceae: white latex, nectar glands.
Moraceae: white or tan latex, leaves not lobed, usually with a distinct collecting vein and fewer lateral veins.

Diversity: Total: 3 genera, 9 species. Trees: 3 genera, 9 species (including hemi-epiphytes in Cousapoa).

Comments: This family is sometimes included in the Moraceae. Cecropia is the most conspicuous genus of common second growth and light gap trees, usually with hollow nodes inhabited by biting ants.



Credits: Images and text copyright 2000-2007, William A. Haber, http://efg.cs.umb.edu/