Cestrum megalophyllum Dunal

Solanaceae– Tobacco Family


– treelet to 6 m tall

– large glabrous leaves, widest beyond middle

– tubular lavender-white flowers

– oblong purple-black berries



Description. Treelet, 3-6 m; twigs with cup-shaped petiole insertion, but bulbous lateral appendages lacking; leaves to 8 x 17 cm, petiole to 15 mm, blade glabrous, oblanceolate to less often elliptic, tip blunt to abruptly acute, midvein expressed above and below, lateral veins 9-12, finely keeled above, but sunken in troughs, faintly bullate, thick and leathery, semi-succulent, odor weak; inflorescences 1-3 per axil, 1-7 mm long, minutely pubescent; flower with calyx tubular, 4 mm, maroon, lobes 1 mm, corolla tube 13-14 mm, pink-white, glabrous, lobes 5-6, 3.5-4 mm long, cream shaded with maroon, puberulent outside, glabrous inside, white hair tuft at base of filaments, tuft at base of corolla, nectar disk appressed to base orange green, inconspicuous, style 12-13 mm, minutely puberulent apically, stigma capitate, green, mild sweet odor at night; fruit to 4 x 8 mm or larger, purple-black, rind white, but juice staining purple, often 1-seeded.

Similar species. Of about 10 species of Cestrum in the region, this is the only one with oblanceolate leaves. Leaf blades of the others are ovate or lanceolate to narrowly elliptic.

Local distribution. Both slopes up to 1550 m; down to the lowlands on the Atlantic side; down to about 900 m on the Pacific side in wetter microhabitats.

Habitat. Light gaps and stream margins in primary forest, old pastures, and secondary forest.

Species range. Guatemala to Bolivia, also Caribbean.

Abundance. Common

Phenology. Flower: Dec-Jan; Fruit: Mar-apr.

Herbivores. Greta anette, Greta polissena (Ithomiinae)

Pollinators. Moths

Seed dispersers. Birds

Comments. Note: the oblanceolate leaves are distinctive. Flowering occurs in short bouts that are usually synchronous among many individuals in the population. The nocturnal flowers are fragrant at night, but the scent is weak. The petioles are often purple in life and typically dry black.

Voucher No. Haber 8361

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Images and text copyright © 2001 by William A. Haber, www.cs.umb.edu/efg
Created: 30 April 2001. Updated: 12 May 2001.