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Carapa.org - megistocarpa

Carapa megistocarpa A.H. Gentry & Dodson

Ref. Gentry, A. H., and C. H. Dodson. 1988.  New species and a new combination for plants from trans-Andean South America. Ann. Mo. Bot. Gard. 75: 1434 –1436.


Ecuador. Pichincha: Centinela, km 12 carretera Patricia Pilar-24 de Mayo, altura de km 47 Santo Domingo-Quevedo, 00?31'S, 79?18'W, 26 July 1984. C. Dodson, A. Gentry, W. Palacios & J. Zaruma 14492 (holotype: MO!; isotypes: MO!, QCNE!).

Tree and leaves

Slender subcanopy tree,(10—)15—20 m tall, 8—20 cm dbh. Bole unbranched or few-branched, base unbuttressed; bark smooth; branches spreading. Leaves (55—)65—110(—130) cm long, petiole 18—40 x 0.6—1 cm, base swollen, generally with 2 nectaries; rachis 32—90 cm long, glabrous; leaflets (5—)6—8 pairs, petiolule 1—2.2 cm long; basal leaflet pairs 15—26 x 7—12 cm, ultimate pairsup to 28—55 x 8—16 cm, glabrous beneath, oblong, the apex apiculate to abruptly acuminate, the base rounded; midrib prominent beneath, glabrous, secondary veins (8-)13—20 pairs, tertiary veins loose and raised beneath.

Inflorescence and flowers

Inflorescence cauliflorous, 27—50 cm long, generally born up to 5 together from short shoots on main trunk, sparsely scaly, peduncle 10—17 cm long, lowermost branches up to 8 cm long. Flowers 4-merous, distinctly pedicellate, pedicel 2—4.5(—7) mm long, smooth to scaly. Calyx greenish, glabrous, lobes generally less than 1 mm long. Petals 4—6 x 2.5—4.5 mm, greenish, glabrous. Staminal tube 3—5 mm long, cup-shaped, 8-lobed, lobes 1—1.5 mm long. Anthers 0.8—1 x 0.6—0.8 mm, antherodesca. 0.7 x ca. 0.5 mm. Disk 0.8—1.2 mm high 2—3 mm diameter, yellowish. Ovary ca. 2 x ca. 1.5 mm, ridged, ca. 1 x 1 mm in staminate flowers; locules 6-ovulate; style less than 0.5 mm long in carpellate flowers, 1—1.5 mm long in staminate flowers; stigma 1—1.5 mm in diameter.

Fruit and seeds

Fruit 8—14 x 9—13 cm, ellipsoid to globose, uniformly brownish, smooth, lacking ribs or warty excrescences, surface with numerous nectaries. Seeds 5—6 x 3—4.5 cm, up to 6 per valve; hilum 0.8—1.2 x 0.3—0.6 mm; testa whitish, pitted.



C. megistocarpa is endemic to Ecuador, where it is restricted to the westernslopes of the Andes, mostly in mid elevation to 700 m altitude.


Carapa megistocarpa differs noticeably from the other species in the genus by its trunciflorous flowers and its large fruits with up to six seeds per valve. Furthermore the whitish and pitted brown seed coat of C. megistocarpa cannot be mistaken for that of any other species in the genus. Although cauliflory seems to be a distinctive feature of C. megistocarpa, a few specimens said on the label to be cauliflorous were excluded because their flowers had short pedicels and 4-ovulate locules. Field studies are necessary to determine their taxonomic status. Based on flower characters, C. megistocarpa also differs from the sympatric C. alticola  by its long pedicel and the ovary with 6-ovulate locules, and from C. longipetala by its shorter  sepals (less than 1 mm long versus 1.3 mm to 1.8 mm in C. longipetala) and its shorter petals (4—6 mm versus 7—9 mm in C. longipetala). Carapa nicaraguensis grows with C. megistocarpa and C. alticola at the Bilsa biological station, Esmeraldas, Ecuador. C. megistocarpa is listed as Endangered by IUCN.


Kenfack, D. (2011) A synoptic revision of Carapa (Meliaceae). Harvard Papers in Botany 16 (2): 171-231.