Witheringia meiantha (Donn. Sm.) Hunz.

Solanaceae – Chinese Lantern Family


– paired glabrous leaves with impressed veins

– small yellow flowers with recurved lobes

– small round red berries



Description. Semi-woody shrub, mature at 1-2 m; twigs somewhat zig-zag and swollen at the nodes; leaves paired, distichous, glabrous, petioles to 4 cm, blades to 6 x 12 cm, minor leaves 50-70% as long, ovate-elliptic, base often unequal, veins weakly impressed above, membranous, very shiny above; flowers nearly sessile on very short peduncles arising between leaf pairs, with 4-15 flowers, pedicel to 18 mm, calyx 2.7 mm wide, without lobes, corolla 6 mm long with 5 recurved yellow 4 mm lobes, dull yellow, often with purple shading inside, usually without green spots, glabrous; fruit a bright red juicy berry, globose or slightly squashed, to10 mm long.

Similar species.

Witheringia coccoloboides– larger leaves with a dull, mat green surface, larger flowers and fruit; grows on higher peaks and ridges exposed to Atlantic trade winds.

Witheringia solanacea– with pubescent leaves, more herbaceous, rarely semi-woody, generally grows at lower elevation below 1500 m.

Local distribution. Pacific slope from 1300 to 1600 m, uncommon in wet spots lower down; Atlantic slope above about 900 m.

Habitat. Forest edge, light gaps, stream margins in forest.

Species range. Mexico to Panama.

Abundance. Common

Phenology. Most of year, especially wet season (FL observed: apr, may; FR: ).

Herbivores. Ithomia patilla

Pollinators. Small bees, also Bombus.

Seed dispersers. Birds

Comments. Common and conspicuous along the trails and road in the Triangle area of the Cloud Forest Preserve. Occurs within the forest in light gaps and open understory.

Voucher No. Bello 4607

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Images and text copyright © 2001 by William A. Haber, www.cs.umb.edu/efg
Created: 28 April 2001. Updated: 29 October 2001.