Close up of white flower.

Systematics and Ecology of the Brazil Nut Family (Lecythidaceae)

Scott A. Mori and collaborators

Neotropical Lecythidaceae are among the most spectacular plants in the world because of their showy flowers and large woody fruits. They are also ecologically dominant species in Amazonian forests; for example, one study showed that Lecythidaceae are the third most abundant family as calculated from a sample of 277,069 trees from across Amazonia, and that Eschweilera, the genus with the most species in Lecythidaceae, is represented by more trees than is any other genus of plants in Amazonia. Lecythidaceae are found as far north as Mexico and as far south as Paraguay, but are not nearly as abundant or species rich as in the Amazon.

Species of the family possess numerous flower and fruit features that reflect adaptations for pollination and dispersal. Although all tropical plant families have such adaptations, they are especially easy to identify in this family because of the large size of the flowers and fruits and adaptations for pollination by bees and bats and dispersal by animals, the wind, and water are easily seen.

The long-term goal of this project has been to provide all of the information that our collaborators have accumulated on the taxonomy and biology of the Brazil nut family. This will include keys to species (not yet available), web pages for the Neotropical species (all names and synonyms are in the database but all fields in the records are not yet populated), and copies of papers that have been written about the systematics, economic botany, habitats, pollination, dispersal biology, anatomy and morphology, and molecular biology of the family.

More information: The Lecythidaceae Pages