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Soapwort Family

Paullinia pinnata L. (sp. aff.), a canopy liana in the Sapindaceae. Note the compound, alternate leaves with tendrils in the axils. Un bejuco que crece al dosel. Note las hojas compuestas y alternas con zarcillos que salen de las axilas.

Description: Sapindaceae is the only family in Sapindales without a strong vegetative odor. In this region as in the rest of the world, most of the genera of Sapindaceae are trees, but most of the species are lianas. Sapindaceae trees have pinnately compound leaves with alternate leaflets (except for the trifoliolate Allophylus). A good character is the presence of an abortive rachis tip (a small point of dead tissue at the terminus of the leaf rachis). The leaflet margins are generally serrate. Sapindaceae lianas are unusual in that they have stipules and a small amount of white latex in the petiole, characters lacking in the rest of the order. They are immediately recognizable, being the only lianas in this region with alternate pinnately compound leaves and tendrils arising from the leaf axils.

Economic uses: Blighia sapida was introduced to Jamaica in the late 1700s (reputedly by Captain William Bligh of H.M.S. Bounty fame), and the fruit is widely used in Carribean cooking. The rambutan (mamón chino; Nephelium ramboutan-ake) is a popular fruit in Southeast Asia, recently introduced to Central America. The seeds of the liana Paullinia cupana, native to the Brazilian Amazon, make a potent caffeinated beverage called guaraná.

Descripción: Sapindaceae es la única familia en este orden que carece de un olor vegetativo fuerte. En esta área así como en el resto del mundo, la mayoría de los géneros en esta familia son árboles, pero la mayoría de las especies son bejucos. Los árboles tienen hojas pinnaticompuestas con foliolos alternos (aparte del genero trifoliolado Allophylus). Una característica que se encuentra frecuentemente en esta familia es un punto pequeño de tejido muerto en el extremo del raquis. Las márgenes de los foliolos generalmente son serrados. Los bejucos en las Sapindaceas son únicos dentro del orden por tener estípulas y savia blanca en el pecíolo. Se pueden reconocer los bejucos en esta familia muy fácilmente, porque en esta zona son los únicos con hojas alternas y pinnati-compuestas con zarcillos saliendo de las axilas.

Usos económicos: Blighia sapida, introducido a Jamaica en el siglo XVII (se dice que fue introducida por el Capitan William Bligh durante sus viajes en la nave H.M.S. Bounty), tiene una fruta que se usa en la comida típica caribeña. El mamón chino (Nephelium ramboutan-ake) es un fruto delicioso nativo al sureste de Asia y recientemente introducido al nuevo mundo. Guaraná, la bebida estimulante de Brasil, se obtiene de las semillas del bejuco Paullinia cupana.

Genera/species at La Selva: 9/23: Lianas: Paullinia (11), Serjania (4) Trees: Allophylus (1), Blighia (1), Cupania (3), Dilodendron (1), Nephelium (1), Talisia (1), Vouarana (1).

FIELD MARKS – alternate, mostly imparipinnate leaves, leaflets alternate or subopposite, leaflets serrate and asymmetrical, short prolongation at end of rachis (mucro).

Cupania sp showing alternative imparipinnate leaves with serrate margins. Close examination of the leaf on the left will reveal the mucro.
Thouinidium decandrum (from Guanacaste) – imparipinnate leaf and leaflets with serrate margins.
Close-up of Thouinidium decandrum showing asymmetrical leaflet with serrate margins.
Coupania has even-pinnate leaves with alteranate toothed leaflets. Note the aborted rachis tip (mucro).
Young Coupania leaves with distinctive red coloration.
The striking similarity between the leaves of this linana and trees in the legume genus Inga is reflected in the specific name of Paullinia ingifolia. A closer look reveals distinct differences, however. Inga would never have an odd number of leaflets or tendrils.
The tangle of stems belongs to the liana Paullinia ingifolia.
Alternate pinnately compound leaves and tendrils arising from the leaf axils of this liana readily identify Paullinia ingifolia as a member of the Sapindaceae.
Paullinia granatensis liana and developing spiny fruits.
Spiny sea urchin-like fruits of Paullina granatensis are reminiscent of rambutans. A single black seed covered in a fleshy white aril lies within.

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Next family: Sapotaceae > >
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