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Tachigalia versicolor is a suicidal neotropical tree


WITHIN a year of flowering in Tachigalia versicolor Standl. and Wms (Leguminosae-Caesalpinoideae) the leaves drop, the fruit is released and the tree dies. Reproduction occurs synchronously at intervals of several years in this large, much-branched, canopy tree species, but not all of the large individuals in the forest canopy flower and die at once. The species is known from the evergreen and semi-deciduous lowland forests of Panama, south-east Costa Rica and north-west Colombia. Except for a brief mention1 of the Amazonian T. myrmecophila, I have found no previous reference to reproduction followed by death in Tachigalia (including Sclerolobium, an apparently congeneric taxon2,3), nor in any other large, branched, dicotyledonous tree. My preliminary observations in Peru suggest that this behaviour is characteristic of several of the other 56 species in this genus, most of which occur in the Amazon Basin.

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  1. 1

    Rodrigues, W. A. Instituto Nac. de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, Serie Botanica, No. 14, 1–11 (1962).

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FOSTER, R. Tachigalia versicolor is a suicidal neotropical tree. Nature 268, 624–626 (1977).

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