DixPix Photographs

     

TROPICAL SOUTH AMERICA

 
     
  FABACEAE-- THE PEA FAMILY  

 

The Pea or Legume Family is the third largest among flora in terms of the number of species, which is roughly 19,000.  It is traditionally broken into three subfamilies, namely Caesalpinioideae, Mimosoideae and Faboidea, with the latter being by far the largest at about 14,000 species.  Some authorities raise these divisions to the rank of Families.  We will start with the Mimosoideae.

 

Calliandra haematocephala appears to have originated in eastern Bolivia, but has been planted widely due to its obvious garden potential.  In fact, this photo was from north of Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo.  It goes by names such as Red Powder Puff and Flor de la Cruz. Click to see big picture (667x600 pixels; 108 KB)
Parkia panurensis is a child of the Amazon Basin, with this photo from the border between Brazil and Peru. Click to see big picture (538x600 pixels; 105 KB)
There are a host of species in the Inga genus, and the flowers all look much the same.  This, however is I. edulis, and it is important as the source of  Amazon Icecream. Click to see big picture (800x514 pixels; 192 KB)
The long pods of Inga edulis by the Amazon River in Colombia. These can reach over a meter in length.  Although of South American origin, the trees are now widely planted in the tropics. Click to see big picture (800x510 pixels; 161 KB)
Inside the pod there is a white fluffy, milky material which surrounds the seeds and tastes a bit like vanilla icecream.   An alcoholic drink called Cachiri is also brewed.  This is one of the species known in English as the Icecream Bean, but the most common name in the Amazon is Guama.  The trees are also medicinal and produce wood of quality.  Click to see big picture (800x418 pixels; 95 KB)
There are many species of the Inga genus, and most of them look pretty much alike.  Inga marginata is more distinct, however.  It is found through most of the Neotropics, here in Iguazu National Park of Argentina.
Chloroleucon tenuiflorum, known as Tatane, is found mainly in Bolivia, Paraguay and northernmost Argentina. Buenos Aires Botanical Gardens. Click to see big picture (720x592 pixels; 150 KB)
The exfoliating bark of Parapiptadenia rigida in Iguazu National Park, northeastern Argentina.  The species is reported mainly from here and adjacent parts of Brazil and Paraguay.  It is known as Angico or Anchicho and is both medicinal and a source of lumber, Click to see big picture (402x600 pixels; 149 KB)
Of very different nature is Neptunia oleracea, a water sensitive-plant here along the Amazon River between Colombia and Peru.  This genus goes by the odd name of Water Dead and Awake.  It is quite widespread in the Neotropics and in Africa. Click to see big picture (643x600 pixels; 148 KB)

We turn now to the Caesalpinioideae Subfamily.

Introducing the Bauhinia genus with the flower of Bauhinia forficata.  This has given the species the name of Brazilian Orchid Tree.

Click to see big picture (761x600 pixels; 131 KB)
The Brazilian Orchid Tree is indeed native to southeastern Brazil, but also from Peru to northern Argentina. This photo is from near the Argentina-Brazil border at Iguazu. Click to see big picture (702x600 pixels; 133 KB)
The Bauhinia genus tends to have double-lobed leaves which resemble somewhat a cow's hoof, and give these species the local name of Pata de Vaca. Click to see big picture (630x600 pixels; 115 KB)
And these are the beans of Bauhinia forficata at the botanical gardens near Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Click to see big picture (593x600 pixels; 124 KB)
Some Bauhinia species of liana weave several strands together to produce what is known as Monkey Ladders or Escalera de Mono.  Bauhinia guianensis is the most common of these. Click to see big picture (230x600 pixels; 82 KB)
The more mature stage of Bauhinia guianensis can look like this monstrosity near the Javary River on the Brazil-Peru border. Click to see big picture (726x600 pixels; 248 KB)
And what produces this oddball maze of interwoven lianas, I do not know.  Photo from near Sumaco, Ecuador. Click to see big picture (800x462 pixels; 184 KB)
Bauhinia rufa, as a weed growing near the town of San Javier in eastern Bolivia. It ranges from here across southern Brazil. Click to see big picture (515x600 pixels; 116 KB)
Brownea grandiceps is a species of northwestern South America, with photo from the Sacha Reserve in eastern Ecuador.  When planted as a garden item, it is known as the Rose of Venezuela or Rosa de Venezuela. Click to see big picture (800x586 pixels; 125 KB)
Ranging from Panama into northwest South America, this appears to be Macrolobium pittieri at the Sacha Reserve in eastern Ecuador.  This is a little south of its usual range, and there may be contenders. Click to see big picture (640x471 pixels; 102 KB)
Campsiandra comosa is noted for its pods and seeds, known as Huacapurana.  The seeds float, and may be ground into a flour.  This is from the Matamata River in Colombian Amazon, and the species is found in northern South America.
Schizolobium parahyba is found from southern Mexico to southeastern Brazil.  Some say it originated in Brazil and call it the Brazilian Fern Tree, but it has spread widely with names such as Quamwood and Garapuvu.  Photo from the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Click to see big picture (727x600 pixels; 164 KB)
From the western Amazon Basin and adjacent highlands comes Senna macrophylla var. gigantifolia.  It is used in indigenous medicine for earaches and headaches.  Photo from Calanoa Reserve, Colombian Amazon. Click to see big picture (756x600 pixels; 151 KB)
Senna corymbosa is known as the Argentine Senna, and is indeed found in northern Argentina, as well as Paraguay and Uruguay.  Photo from northeast of Salta.
From the same area, this is Peltophorum dubium, known as Copperpod in English, and as Ibira Pita locally.  It is native to northern Argentina, and adjacent Paraguay and Brazil.
An unidentified pea-bush in Iguazu National Park, northeastern Argentina. Click to see big picture (434x600 pixels; 109 KB)
Turning now to the Faboideae division of the Pea Family, this as a tree of the Swartzia genus reflected in a branch of the Amazon River between Peru and Colombia.  There are several species in this area, which tend to be called Arapari. Click to see big picture (424x600 pixels; 113 KB)
It is known as the Pride of Bolivia and is native to the southern parts of tropical South America.  Tipuana tipu has been planted around the globe, however, and this photo is from Buenos Aires.  Its aggressive root systems have proved a problem in some areas. Click to see big picture (720x494 pixels; 150 KB)
Swartzia jorori is found on the western rim of the Amazon drainages.  It seems to be used mainly for timber.   Santa Cruz Botanical Gardens, Bolivia. Click to see big picture (800x535 pixels; 254 KB)
Holocalyx balansae in Iguazu Park of northeastern Argentina.  Known as Alecrin, it is found in this region and adjacent parts of Brazil and Paraguay. Click to see big picture (528x600 pixels; 169 KB)
Going by the name of Rabo Molle, Lonchocarpus muehlbergianus is native to the southern neotropics.  This one is growing in northeastern Argentina near the Brazil border, and is mainly reported from here and from adjacent parts of Paraguay and Brazil. Click to see big picture (800x550 pixels; 211 KB)
A flower of Clitoria fairchildiana in Mocagua Village on the banks of the Amazon in Colombia.  This tree is known as Sombreiro, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Click to see big picture (714x600 pixels; 99 KB)
Known by many names, such as Gallito and Bucayo, Erythrina poeppigiana is native to much of the Neotropics, and has been planted beyond. Photo from the town of Guapurutu in eastern Bolivia. Click to see big picture (782x600 pixels; 187 KB)
Erythrina crista-galli is known as Cockspur Coral Tree in English and as Seibo in Spanish.  It started out in Paraguay, northern Argentina and adjacent Brazil, but has now been widely distributed. Click to see big picture (720x576 pixels; 136 KB)
The lovely Cymbosema roseum vine is found from southern Nicaragua to the Amazon Basin.  This photo is from the former, along a tributary of the San Juan River.  I can find no common name for this species, which looks like it would be welcome in any tropical garden. Click to see big picture (665x600 pixels; 110 KB)
Arachis pintoi is Brazilian by origin, but has become a favored forage crop and planted very widely.  It is a relative of the common peanut, and tends to be called the Pinto Peanut. Click to see big picture (710x600 pixels; 78 KB)
Closely related to the Fabaceae, and often confused with them, is the Polygalaceae Family. Here in the seasonal flood zone of the Amazon River in Colombia is Securidaca longifolia, which is found through much of the Amazon Basin.
A fuller view of Securidaca longifolia.