The Goethalsia Page

Goethalsia meiantha (Donn. Sm.) Burret

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Goethalsia Pittier is a monotypic genus of trees, belonging to subfamily Grewioideae of the angiosperm family Malvaceae sensu APG, native to the neotropics from Nicaragua to Columbia and Venezuela. It is a segregate of Luehea Willd., and has on occasion been placed within Flacourtiaceae (as opposed to Tiliaceae), possibly on account of the reduced petals. DNA sequence data places it among the grewioids, but there is insufficient data to identify its closest relatives. Possible sister groups are the Old World genus Colona, distributed from China to New Guinea, from which it may be distinguished by the presence of an epicalyx, and the Neotropical genera Luehea and Lueheopsis.

Goethalsia is also a genus of hummingbirds.

Goethalsia meiantha (Donn. Sm.) Burret
 chanco blanco, Gu├ícimo blanco
 guasimo blanco

Goethalsia is a moderately common to common pioneer species of secondary forests in humid regions in the west of Central America and the north of South America. It is a thin-buttressed tree, growing up to 30 m in height. It has a thick fibrous bark which may be torn into long strips and used in the manufacture of handicrafts. Although the wood is soft and of low quality, it is used in a minor way as a timber source.


Goethalsia meiantha is thin-buttressed tree, with pale bark, growing to 30 m in height. The branches are coffee-coloured, with numerous whitish lenticules. Young branches have sparse simple hairs among a dense coat of short fasciculate hairs.

The leaves are elliptic-oblong to obovate-oblong, borne on short (10-12 mm long) petioles, with small, caducous, stipules. The leaf-blades are 7-14 cm long, and 5-8 cm wide. The apex is narrowly acuminate, the base cuneate to rounded, and the margin toothed. The upper surface has stellate hairs along the veins; the lower surface is off-white in colour, and densely covered with appresed stellate hairs. There are 2 to 3 pairs of lateral veins, the basal pair being almost as well developed as the principal vein. The tertiary venation is parallel.

The inflorescences are paniculate, both terminal and axillary, shorter than the leaves, and with small (2 mm long) persistent bracts. The flowers have an epicalyx of 3 bracteoles, each 3-4 mm long, and with a pale yellowish pubescence. The calyx and corolla are 5-merous. The sepals are lanceolate, shortly connate at the base, and 10 mm long. They are villous, with long simple hairs, on the internal surface, and tomentose, with fine, stellate, deciduous, hairs, on the outer surface. They are yellow on the inner surface and green on the outer surface. The petals are yellow. They are oblong or obovate, about 4 mm long, densely villous on the claw, the remainder pappillose, and with scattered long stellate hairs. Their base bears long oblong nectarial glands.

The stamens and pistils are borne on a short (1.5-1.8 mm long) glabrous stalk (androgynophore) surmounted by a villous urceolus (flask-shaped body), c. 2 mm in diameter, which surrounds the base of the stamens. (This feature, shared with Colona, might be homologous to the staminodes of Luehea.) The stamens number c. 25, in 5 indistinct bundles, are shortly connate at the base, and have globose anthers. The ovary is sessile on the androgynophore. It has 3 or, less commonly, 4 locules, each containing 4 ovules. There is a single, thread-like style, with an indistinctly 3-lobed stigma.

The fruit is composed of 3, or less commonly 2 or 4, connate, indehiscent, samaroid mericarps, which eventually separate from the central axis. They are green when young, maturing to a purplish-gray. Each samara is oblong is contour, widely winged around a more or less globular central portion, which has a irregular transverse crest. The wings are 3.5-4 cm long and 1.5-2 cm wide. Each samara contains 1 to 4 flattened pear-shaped seeds, which are 2.8-4 mm long and 1.8-2.5 mm wide. The seed possesses abundant endosperm. The cotyledons are flat and leaf-like.


Synonyms of Goethalsia meiantha include Goethalsia isthmica Pittier and Luehea meiantha Donn.Sm.


Non-flowering specimens may be confused with Trichospermum galeottii, which may be distinguished by the possession of thinner, more finely serrate, leaves, with some long-armed fasiculate hairs in addition the the appressed stellate tomentum.