Cestrum lanatum M. Martens & Galeotti

Solanaceae - Tobacco family – "Zorillo"


– treelet without spines

– leaf underside with dense carpet of stellate hairs

– tubular pale green flowers, 15 mm long, nocturnal

– oblong purple-black berries

habit with flower


Description. Shrub or tree, 3-15 m; twigs with white lenticels, dense pubescence of beige feather-like hairs; leaves to 7 x 12 cm, petiole 1-1.5 cm, round, pubescent, blade broadly lanceolate, tip acute, base obtuse, margin entire, midvein raised above, lateral veins 7-9, impressed above, blade with stellate and plumose hairs sparse and short above, dense and long below, soft to the touch, strong acrid odor; inflorescences terminal, axillary, and at lower leafless nodes, 5-25 mm long, often developing on short new axillary twiglets with or without leaves; flowers with 1-5 mm pedicel, calyx 5 mm, 5 lobes 0.8-1 mm, pubescent, corolla 14 mm with 10 mm tube, glabrous, 5-6 lobes, 4 mm, infolded along margins, stamens yellow-green; fruit to 8 x 11 mm, shiny purple black; seeds to 2.5 x 4.5 mm, black with a pebbled surface, 1-4/fruit.

Similar species. Cestrum megalophyllum and C. racemosum (both are glabrous).

Local distribution. Pacific slope at 800-1450 m.

Habitat. Open successional areas such as abandoned pastures and roadsides.

Species range. Mexico to Colombia

Abundance. Common

Phenology. Flowers: Feb; Fruit: Apr-May.

Herbivores. Greta anette, Greta oto (Ithomiinae)

Pollinators. Moths

Seed dispersers. Birds

Comments. This species is mostly seen as a shrub or treelet in early successional areas, but it can grow into a medium-sized tree with a dbh of 30 cm. The other Cestrum species in the region are glabrous. Because they usually do not have paired leaves, Cestrums are not immediately identifiable as Solanaceae. Some have a strong rank solanaceous odor, but others have none. All species have tubular nocturnal flowers, mostly pollinated by Lepidoptera. Many species of Solanaceae in the genera Cestrum and Solanum are called "Zorillo" because of their disagreeable odor. Those with red or orange fruits are often called "Tomatillo" (= little tomato).

Voucher No. Haber 11006

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Images and text copyright © 2001 by William A. Haber, www.cs.umb.edu/efg
Created: 22 February 2001. Updated: 12 May 2001.