Lauraceae- the Laurel and Avocado family

Key to Species of Monteverde, Costa Rica

Medium to large trees, sometimees treelets mature at 3-5 m, stipules absent, leaves aromatic with ethereal oils, alternate, spiraled, margin entire, venation pinnate (3-veined in Cinnamomum), pubescent or glabrous; flowers in branched axillary and terminal, usually many-flowered inflorescences, mostly bisexual (some Ocotea species dioecious), small (2-7 mm long), with 2 whorls of tepals, stamens 3-12 (mostly 9 in our area) each with 2 (Beilschmiedia) or 4 pollen-storage pockets that dehisce by upward-curling valves (opening like a sardine can), usually with orange or yellow subglobose nectar glands around the bases of the 3 inner stamens, 3 peg-like staminodes present or not next to the ovary, the ovary superior, but appearing half inferior because of the surrounding nectar glands and stamen filaments, one ovule, style simple, stigma simple to capitate; fruit a fleshy, 1-seeded drupe-like berry, the seed with a papery (most species) or semi-hard exocarp (Beilschmiedia), mostly dispersed by birds or monkeys (some Persea), most with the fruit black and subtended by a red cupule formed by the expanded receptacle (but a simple woody pedicel in Beilschmiedia and Persea).

Field Recognition: Trees without stipules, leaves spiraled, simple, entire, aromatic odor in bark and petioles.

MASTER KEY (Species Descriptions)

For trees from the Peñas Blancas or San Gerardo Valleys on the Atlatic slope, use the PENAS BLANCAS KEY.

1. Leaves distinctly pubescent to the touch, hairs evident without a hand lens ... Key A

1. Leaves glabrous to the touch, pubescence restricted to fine hairs only visible with a hand lens ... 2

2. Leaves 3-veined, that is the basal pair of lateral veins strongly developed, ascending at an acute angle, and reaching to the middle of the blade or higher... Key B

2. Leaves not 3-veined ... 4

3. Leaf blades large, commonly more than 15 cm long ... Key C

3. Leaf blades (except shade leaves) small, rarely reaching 15 cm long ... 4

4. Domatia present on blade underside, either pubescent tufts in vein axils of lateral veins or tiny holes along the veins often with a corresponding bulge on blade upperside ... Key D

4. Domatia absent ... 5

5. Most leaves widest beyond the middle (obovate or oblanceolate)... Key E

5. Most leaves widest at or below the middle (varying from ovate or lanceolate to elliptic, rarely with some leaves obovate or oblanceolate) ... Key F

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Images and text copyright © 2001 by William A. Haber,
Created: 11 November 2001.