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Originally considered to be in the same family as the kapok tree, and then in a family of its own, the genus Cochlospermum is now known to be a relative of annatto (Bixa orellana) - a South American plant widely used as a food dye.

[KSP]

Kew Species Profiles

General Description
A striking South American tree, the empty fruits of which may turn up in your potpourri.

Originally considered to be in the same family as the kapok tree, and then in a family of its own, the genus Cochlospermum is now known to be a relative of annatto (Bixa orellana) - a South American plant widely used as a food dye.

Cochlospermum orinocense was first encountered in 1800 on the banks of the mighty Orinoco River by the great explorers and naturalists Alexander von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland. Like a number of tropical trees adapted to survival in seasonal climatic conditions, C. orinocense flowers while leafless during the dry season, ready to develop fruits when the rains come.

As a 'pioneer' species it grows rapidly and can colonise cleared areas. Its flowers are pollinated by solitary bees during an intensely synchronised flowering period. If bees are scarce, flowers can self-pollinate and produce fruits.

Species Profile
Geography and distribution

Widespread in northern South America and into Panama.

Description

Overview: A small to medium-sized deciduous tree.

Leaves: The leaves are arranged alternately on branches, and are divided into 5-7 separate leaflets on a long leaf-stalk (petiole), like the fingers of a spread hand.

Flowers: The five-petalled yellow hermaphrodite flowers have numerous orange anthers (part that contains the pollen) and a single style (part of the female element of the flower) and are borne towards the ends of the branches while the tree is leafless.

Fruits:  The fruits are three-lobed capsules, initially soft and green but becoming brittle and opening when dry to release curved seeds bearing long brownish hairs.

Uses

This tree is occasionally planted for ornamental purposes on account of its spectacular flowers, and in the region of Santerém (Brazilian Amazon) its attractive papery pods are used in floral arrangements. They are also sometimes incorporated into potpourri mixtures.

As with many members of the order Malvales, the bark of this tree is strong and fibrous, and is sometimes used to make rope, baskets or even perhaps clothing. The wood is occasionally used for handicrafts and is said to be good for smoke-curing natural rubber.

The seeds have been used by indigenous Amazonian peoples to make necklaces, and the silky fibres that surround them in the pod may be used to stuff cushions and pillows (hence the name algodão-bravo , which means 'wild cotton').

There are also reports of this species being used for medicinal purposes: treatments of wounds, fevers and bruises.

Cultivation

Cochlospermum orinocense can be grown from seeds (approximately 33,300 per kilogramme), which germinate more rapidly if the hairs are removed. Experiments indicate that the ideal germination temperature is 25°C.

This species at Kew

 

Pressed and dried specimens of Cochlospermum orinocense are held in Kew's Herbarium, where they are available to researchers from around the world, by appointment. The details of some of these, including images, can be seen online in the Herbarium Catalogue.

The Sustainable Uses Group at Kew works with potpourri designers and manufacturers and has collected 1,000 potpourri samples representing 455 related groups of plants. This collection includes three samples of the empty fruits of C. orinocense , which are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection.

Kew's work in Brazil

Kew's survey teams found Cochlospermum orinocense to be common in seasonal forest on granite outcrops in the Cristalino State Park, Brazil, in their work in this part of the southern Amazon.

Distribution
Brazil, Peru, Venezuela
Ecology
Secondary forest, forest margins and natural clearings; also in seasonal, dry forests.
Conservation
Not known to be threatened.
Hazards

None known.

[CPLC]

Bernal, R., Gradstein, S.R. & Celis, M. (eds.). 2015. Catálogo de plantas y líquenes de Colombia. Instituto de Ciencias Naturales, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá. http://catalogoplantasdecolombia.unal.edu.co

Distribution
Nativa en Colombia; Alt. 20 - 770 m.; Amazonia, Guayana y Serranía de La Macarena, Orinoquia, Pacífico, Valle del Magdalena.
Morphology General Habit
Árbol
Conservation
No Evaluada

[UPB]

The Useful Plants of Boyacá project

Ecology
Alt. 2600 - 3900 m.
Morphology General Habit
Herb.
Distribution
Native from Colombia.

[KSP]
Use
Craft products, bark fibre, folk medicine, and occasionally as an ornamental.

[UPB]
Use Materials
Materials (State of the World's Plants 2016).
Use Materials Unspecified Materials Chemicals
Materials (State of the World's Plants 2016).
Use Medicines Unspecified Medicinal Disorders
Medicinal (Instituto Humboldt 2014).

Native to:

Bolivia, Brazil North, Brazil West-Central, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Panamá, Peru, Suriname, Venezuela

English
Tefé rose
Spanish
Bototo, flechero, botuto, yuco, ceibo, bototo.

Cochlospermum orinocense (Kunth) Steud. appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
Mar 1, 2007 Sasaki, D. [1337], Mato Grosso K000447280
Nov 1, 2006 Projeto Flora Cristalino [322], Mato Grosso K000578731
Nov 1, 2006 Projeto Flora Cristalino [259], Mato Grosso K000447281
May 22, 1998 Dubs, B. [2419], Brazil K000973148
Jan 1, 1988 Cid Ferreira, C.A. [8033], Brazil K000973145
Jan 1, 1988 Nee, M.H. [34565], Brazil K000973147
Jan 1, 1985 Cid Ferreira, C.A. [2552], Brazil K000973149
Jan 1, 1978 Hostmann [1040], Suriname K000470097
Jan 1, 1978 Spruce, R. [s.n.], Brazil K000973124
Jan 1, 1978 Parker, D.S. [illeg] [178], Guyana K000470098
Jan 1, 1978 Hostmann [1040], Suriname K000470096
Jan 1, 1978 Prance, G.T. [5317], Brazil K000973136
Jan 1, 1978 Burchell [9806], Brazil K000973142
Jan 1, 1978 Riedel [1308], Brazil K000973141
Jan 1, 1978 Spruce, R. [s.n.], Brazil K000973127
Jan 1, 1972 Prance, G.T. [7579], Brazil K000973129
Jan 1, 1972 Prance, G.T. [6282], Brazil K000973140
Jan 1, 1972 Prance, G.T. [15152], Brazil K000973146
Jan 1, 1972 Prance, G.T. [5165], Brazil K000973143
Jul 30, 1967 Ratter, J.A. [227], Brazil K000973137
Jan 1, 1967 Prance, G.T. [3972], Brazil K000973135
Jan 1, 1967 Prance, G.T. [4261], Brazil K000973138
Jan 1, 1967 Prance, G.T. [2992], Brazil K000973139
Jan 1, 1961 Pires, J.M. [51716], Brazil K000973131
Pennington, R.T. [120], Bolivia 55808.000
Egler, W.A. [47642], Brazil K000973130
Burchell [10092] K000973122
Spruce, R. [493], Brazil K000973126
Ducke [526], Brazil K000973134
s.coll. [493], Brazil K000973128
Ratter, J.A. [5502], Brazil K000973144
Spruce, R. [s.n.], Brazil K000973125
Spruce, R. [129], Brazil K000973123
Krukoff, B.A. [8313], Brazil K000973132
Silva, F.C. [59], Brazil K000973151
Krukoff, B.A. [8313], Brazil K000973133
Ratter, J.A. [6791], Brazil K000973150

First published in Nomencl. Bot., ed. 2, 1: 393 (1840)

Accepted by

  • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.
  • Govaerts, R. (2003). World Checklist of Selected Plant Families Database in ACCESS: 1-216203. The Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  • Hokche, O., Berry, P.E. & Huber, O. (eds.) (2008). Nuevo Catálogo de la Flora Vascular de Venezuela: 1-859. Fundación Instituto Botánico de Venezuela.
  • Idárraga-Piedrahita, A., Ortiz, R.D.C., Callejas Posada, R. & Merello, M. (eds.) (2011). Flora de Antioquia: Catálogo de las Plantas Vasculares 2: 1-939. Universidad de Antioquia, Medellín.
  • Jørgensen, P.M., Nee, M.H. & Beck., S.G. (eds.) (2013). Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 127: 1-1741.

Literature

Kew Species Profiles

  • Duke, J. A. & Vasquez, R. (1994). Amazonian Ethnobotanical Dictionary. CRC Press, Boca Raton.
  • Figueiredo, P. S. de, Ribeiro, E. K. M. D., Lacerda, D. M. A. & Girnos, E. C. (2009). Estratégia reprodutíva de Cochlospermum orinocense (Kunth) Steud.: fenologia, biologia floral e sistema. Revista Brasileira de Botânica 32: 781-792.
  • Projeto: 'Extrativismo Não-madeireiro e Desenvolvimento Sustentável na Amazônia (ITTO – PD 31/99 ver. 3 (i)'. Banco de dados “Non Wood”.

Useful Plants of Boyacá Project

  • Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humbodlt (2014). Plantas alimenticias y medicinales nativas de Colombia. 2567 registros, aportados por: Castellanos, C. (Contacto del recurso), Valderrama, N. (Creador del recurso, Autor), Castro, C. (Proveedor de metadatos), Bernal, Y. (Autor), García, N. (Autor). Versión 11.0. http://i2d.humboldt.org.co/ceiba/resource.do?r=ls_colombia_magnoliophyta_2014
  • Kew's Economic Botany collection in The State of the World’s Plants Report–2016. (2016). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew https://stateoftheworldsplants.org/2016/

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Jørgensen, P.M., Nee, M.H. & Beck., S.G. (eds.) (2013). Catálogo de las plantas vasculares de Bolivia Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden 127: 1-1741.

Catálogo de Plantas y Líquenes de Colombia
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Colombian resources for Plants made Accessible
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Backbone Distributions
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2021. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
© Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

Kew Science Photographs
Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Kew Species Profiles
Kew Species Profiles
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

Useful Plants of Boyacá Project
ColPlantA database
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/