Carludovica palmata (Panama hat plant)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Plant Type
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Air Temperature
- Soil Tolerances
- Natural enemies
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Carludovica palmata Ruiz & Pav.
Preferred Common Name
- Panama hat plant
Other Scientific Names
- Carludovica gigantea Kuntze
- Carludovica incisa H. Wendl
- Carludovica jamaicensis Lodd. ex Fawcett & Harris
- Carludovica serrata Wawra & Bermann
- Ludovia palmata (Ruiz & Pav.) Pers.
- Salmia palmata (Ruiz & Pav.) Willd.
International Common Names
- English: carludovica palm; jipijapa; jipipapa; panama-hat; panama-hat palm; toquilla; toquilla palm
- Spanish: bombonaje; carludovica; chidra; jipijapa ; palma de sombrero; palma jipijapa; toquilla
- French: carludovique; carludovique palmée
Local Common Names
- Cook Islands: Panamā
- Cuba: bombonaxa; chupa; hiraca; jipijapa; palma jipijapa exótica del Perú; yracas
- Dominican Republic: panamá
- Ecuador/Galapagos Islands: cade; paja toquilla
- Germany: Panama-Palme
- Haiti: jipi-japa
- Italy: carludovica
- Jamaica: jippi jappa
- Lesser Antilles: ailes mooches; cachibou; langue à boeuf; siguine bâtard; zelle moches
- Mexico: palma de sonbreroros
- Peru: bombonaje
- Puerto Rico: palma de sombrero de Panamá
- Sweden: panamapalm
- CVFPA (Carludovica palmata)
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Carludovica palmata is a large herbaceous plant resembling a small palm tree, native to Central America and northern South America. It has been widely introduced and cultivated because of its ornamental value and its use as a source of fibre, in particular for making Panama hats. It is considered naturalized on many Caribbean Islands, and is recorded as invasive in Cuba. It has been seen to be naturalizing in the forest understorey on Upolu, Samoa. Thus, although there is little evidence of any negative impact, it is considered as an invasive or potentially invasive plant on tropical islands such as the Cook Islands and Samoa. It is one of the invasive species of environmental concern in Guam, Hawaii and Papua New Guinea (Space et al., 2003). On the basis of its potential for spreading, the risk assessment in PIER (2018) classifies it as 'High risk'.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Monocotyledonae
- Order: Cyclanthales
- Family: Cyclanthaceae
- Genus: Carludovica
- Species: Carludovica palmata
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Carludovica belongs to the family Cyclanthaceae; these plants are only distantly related to the true palms and are more closely related to the screw pines (Pandanus spp.). Carludovica palmata is the most common species in its genus. It was named in the late 18th century by José Pavon and Hipolito Ruiz, botanists from the royal gardens in Madrid, after King Carlos IV of Spain and his wife Ludovica (Pachacuti, 2020).
DescriptionTop of page
“An erect, palm-like, monoecious, rhizomatous, perennial herb, 1.5—4(—5) m tall, usually growing in dense clumps. Stem absent or short and underground. Leaves dispersed; blades usually lobed nearly to the base. Inflorescence a spadix, borne in the axil of leaves near ground level; peduncle during anthesis 20—50 cm long, in fruiting stage 1 m or longer. Spadix at first enclosed by 3—4 spathes, which fall and leave the cylindrical spadix naked. Spathes lanceolate to ovate, acuminate to subcuspidate, the 2 lower ones green and coarse, the 2 upper ones creamy-white to greenish-white. Male flowers fleshy, massive, without distinct pedicel, rounded to angular, 3—5 mm long, receptacle flat or shallowly concave, 2—3 mm in diameter. Stamens 30—55, densely crowded, filaments 0.1—0.2 mm long, slightly thickened at base. Female flowers suborbicular to quadrangular; tepals 4, connate at base, obtusely triangular; staminodes 4, filiform, 3—6 mm long, yellowish-white to silken-white, forming a disordered mass on the flowering spadix; pistil with ovary one-loculed bearing 4 placentas, style one, short at first, later prolonged; stigmas 4, alternating with the tepals, generally rather broad, ovate to suborbicular when seen from above, entirely encircled by the tepals. Fruit a berry but all berries of the spadix fused to a single, fleshy, yellow-green, cylindrical syncarp.” (PROTA, 2016).
Carludovica palmata resembles a small palm. When mature, the petioles are 2 to 3 metres long, with leaves 1.5 to 4 metres long and 1 metre wide, in the shape of a fan. The inflorescences sprout at the base of the plant, next to the petioles (Gallegos and Burbano, 2004). The species grows in clumps of 40 to 300 mature individuals (Gallegos, 2004).
Plant TypeTop of page
DistributionTop of page
Carludovica palmata is a neotropical species widely spread from Guatemala to Bolivia. It is considered naturalized in the Caribbean (IUCN, 2020), and has also been introduced for cultivation to a number of Pacific islands and Asian countries. PROTA (2016) cites a source mentioning introduction to Africa, and USDA-ARS (2020) lists it as cultivated there, but neither gives details.
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 11 May 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Sri Lanka||Present, Cultivated||Introduced|
|Antigua and Barbuda||Present||Introduced|
|Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba||Present||Introduced|
|British Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced|
|El Salvador||Absent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)|
|Saint Kitts and Nevis||Present||Introduced|
|Saint Vincent and the Grenadines||Present||Introduced|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present||Introduced|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Present||Introduced|
|Cook Islands||Present, Cultivated||Introduced||Atiu Island, Rarotonga Island. Of concern as a potential invasive species.|
|Federated States of Micronesia|
|Niue||Present, Few occurrences||One occurrence. Voucher cited: CHR 17306|
|Samoa||Present||Introduced||Invasive||Upolu Island. Voucher Flynn 6933 (PTBG). Cultivated and invasive.|
|Ecuador||Present||Native and Introduced||Native on mainland; introduced in Galapagos Islands.|
|Guyana||Absent, Unconfirmed presence record(s)|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Carludovica palmata is thought to have been introduced to the West Indies, and possibly to southern Mexico and Guyana (IUCN. 2020). It has also been introduced for cultivation in Asia, from India and Sri Lanka through South-East Asia (e.g. Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines) to Taiwan (USDA-ARS, 2020; PROTA, 2016; note that only the latter source mentions Malaysia and the Philippines). PROTA (2016) cites a source mentioning introduction to Africa, but gives no details. Further introductions have taken place in some Pacific islands (see Distribution table).
HabitatTop of page
Carludovica palmata is found in lowland, submontane tropical rain forests and in transitional forests on sandy soils; sometimes it grows as a pioneer in secondary vegetation (IUCN, 2020). It is occasionally found in drier and more open locations, such as roadsides, pastures and scrubland (PROTA, 2016). In Amazonian Ecuador, it grows in open, disturbed sites, often in alluvial soil (Bennett et al., 1992).
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Managed||Cultivated / agricultural land||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Protected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production)||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Managed forests, plantations and orchards||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Disturbed areas||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Managed||Rail / roadsides||Secondary/tolerated habitat|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural forests||Principal habitat|
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Natural grasslands||Principal habitat|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Chromosome number has been reported as 2n=30 and 2n=18 for Carludovica palmata (Kubitzki et al., 1998). Genetic variation has not been recorded or studied, and no germplasm collections or breeding programs are recorded (PROTA, 2016).
According to one source cited by the Carludovica palmata risk assessment in PIER (2018), almost all members of the Cyclanthaceae are pollinated by derolomine flower weevils, as also reported by Anderson et al. (1997) for C. palmata in Costa Rica, although another source mentions stingless bees (Meliponinae) apparently pollinating C. palmata in Colombia. Seeds of C. palmata germinate within 2 weeks under hot and moist conditions. The plant can also be propagated by seeds, suckers and rhizomes. (In cultivation, plants grown from suckers are preferred because the leaves can be harvested after 18 months whereas plants grown from seed can take up to seven years before the leaves can be cut (PROTA, 2016)).
Physiology and Phenology
In Panama, Carludovica palmata flowers mostly in January and February, and possibly March. Fruit matures from April to June, and rarely later in the rainy season (Croat, 1978).
Carludovica palmata grows in colonies, each consisting of about 40 to 300 petioles. Like many typical colonizing species, it is found in areas with disturbed soils along with families such as Heliconaceae, Poaceae, Arecaceae,and Cecropiaceae. In agricultural areas or agroforestry systems, it grows near fruit trees, some crop plants, and timber trees (Gallegos and Burbano, 2004)
Carludovica palmata requires well-drained, humus-rich soil and ample water (Staples and Herbst, 2005). It grows well in hot tropical climates with partial shade and plenty of rain (NIIR Board of Consultants and Engineers, 2005). It easily gets dehydrated in direct sunlight (which caused the failure of attempts to cultivate it in Bolivia, although it is often cultivated in Ecuador) (Arancibia and López, 2004).
According to Useful Tropical Plants (2016), it grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 24 - 32°C, but can tolerate 12 - 37°C; it prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1200 - 1800mm, but tolerates 800 - 2200mm; and it prefers a pH in the range 5 - 6, but tolerates 4.5 - 6.5. (This source says that it can succeed in full sun, but prefers a shady position).
ClimateTop of page
|A - Tropical/Megathermal climate||Preferred||Average temp. of coolest month > 18°C, > 1500mm precipitation annually|
|Af - Tropical rainforest climate||Preferred||> 60mm precipitation per month|
|B - Dry (arid and semi-arid)||Tolerated||< 860mm precipitation annually|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Air TemperatureTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit|
|Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC)||32||37|
|Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC)||12||24|
RainfallTop of page
|Parameter||Lower limit||Upper limit||Description|
|Mean annual rainfall||1200||1800||mm; lower/upper limits|
Soil TolerancesTop of page
Natural enemiesTop of page
|Natural enemy||Type||Life stages||Specificity||References||Biological control in||Biological control on|
|Aspidiotus destructor||Herbivore||not specific|
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Carludovica palmata has been widely introduced for cultivation because of its palm-like form and its ornamental value (Whistler, 2000). In the Pacific, it has been seen in cultivation on Rarotonga and Atiu, Cook Islands (Space and Flynn, 2002b) and in Vailima Reserve and the Alaoa area of Samoa (Space and Flynn, 2002a). It is also extensively cultivated on Caribbean Islands for its use in making Panama hats because of its soft, flexible, and durable fibers.
Pathway CausesTop of page
Pathway VectorsTop of page
|Seeds can be ordered online for delivery||Yes||Yes|
Impact SummaryTop of page
ImpactTop of page
There is little evidence of any negative impact of Carludovica palmata, although it is nevertheless recorded as invasive in a few countries.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Proved invasive outside its native range
- Has a broad native range
- Abundant in its native range
- Highly adaptable to different environments
- Pioneering in disturbed areas
- Tolerant of shade
- Benefits from human association (i.e. it is a human commensal)
- Reproduces asexually
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
UsesTop of page
In some areas the weaving of hats from the leaves of Carludovica palmata is an important part of the economy. Becal, in the Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico, is one such place, where it has been a main source of income in most families for a long time, and has contributed positively to the local economy and to cultural identity (Fadiman, 2001). A similar situation can be found in parts of Ecuador (Gallegos and Burbano, 2004) and Bolivia (Arancibia and López, 2004).
The commercial use of buds of Carludovica palmata for food, and the marketing of native crafts made from C. palmata, could potentially exceed the economic benefits of the Panama hat industry (Bennett et al., 1992).
All of Ecuador's indigenous Amazonian people use Carludovica palmata for roof thatching. The Shuar, Achuar and Quichua make mammal and fish traps from the petiole. Peruvians extract oil from the seeds, and it has been reported that a decoction made from the leaves has haemostatic properties (Bennett et al., 1992).
The young leaf fibres are widely used for making hats, fans, baskets, and curtains. Brooms are made from more mature leaves. Guaymi Indians eat the young inflorescences and the boiled roots are used as a medicine (Hanelt, 2016).
Roots of Carludovica palmata are used in salads and as a potherb (Useful Tropical Plants, 2016).
Other uses reported from Ecuador by Bennett et al. (1992) include making designs on pottery with the petioles, and the use of leaves to make women's skirts (in the past), as umbrellas, as plate substitutes or as covers for pots of the local alcoholic beverage chicha.
Carludovica palmata has been widely introduced for cultivation because of its palm-like form and its ornamental value (Whistler, 2000).
Since Carludovica palmata grows in disturbed open areas that are widespread but underutilized, its cultivation in its native range could bring economic benefits without further destruction of primary forests (Bennett et al., 1992).
Uses ListTop of page
- Botanical garden/zoo
- Sociocultural value
Human food and beverage
- Potted plant
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Carludovica palmata is very similar to C. drudei except for differences in the leaves, tepal length, and shape of stigma (Croat, 1978).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
The Cook Islands, where Carludovica palmata is of concern as a possible invasive species, have established inter-island quarantine procedures to prevent the movement of invasive plants and other species, including C. palmata, between islands (Space and Flynn, 2002b).
In Samoa, where small naturalized populations of Carludovica palmata were observed and the species had the potential to spread more widely in the forest understorey, Space and Flynn (2002a) recommended that it should be evaluated for eradication.
ReferencesTop of page
Anderson, R. S., Gómez-P., L. D., 1997. Systenotelus, a remarkable new genus of weevil (Coleoptera: Curculionidae) associated with Carludovica (Cyclanthaceae) in Costa Rica and Panamá. Revista de Biología Tropical, 45(2), 887-904.
Arancibia E, López F, 2004. Jipi japa fibre, handicrafts: Bolivian case. In: Riches of the forest: fruits, remedies and handicrafts in Latin America, [ed. by Lopez C, Shanley P, Fantini AC]. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). 41-44. https://doi.org/10.17528/cifor/001612 doi: 10.17528/cifor/001612
Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. In: Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation.unpaginated.
Chong, K. Y., Tan, H. T. W., Corlett, R. T., 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species, Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore.273 pp. https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/app/uploads/2017/04/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf
Fosberg, FR, 1997. Preliminary checklist of the flowering plants and ferns of the Society islands. [ed. by Stoddart, DR]. California, USA: University of California, Berkeley.
Gallegos RA, 2004. Toquilla fibre, Panama hat: Ecuadorian case. In: Riches of the forest: fruits, remedies and handicrafts in Latin America, [ed. by Lopez C, Shanley P, Fantini AC]. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). 37-40. https://doi.org/10.17528/cifor/001612 doi: 10.17528/cifor/001612
Gallegos RA, Burbano MF, 2004. Use of Paja Toquilla (Carludovica palmata Ruiz & Pavon) for the Production of Panama Hats in Three Communities of Manabi Province, Ecuador. In: Forest Products, Livelihoods and Conservation: Case Studies of Non-Timber Forest Product Systems, [ed. by Alexiades MN, Shanley P]. Bogor, Indonesia: Center for International Forestry Research. https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/resrep02086.28.pdf [Translated from 'Uso de la paja toquilla (Carludovica palmata Ruiz & Pavón), en la elaboración de sombreros en tres comunidades de la provincia de Manabí, Ecuador']
Hanelt, P., 2016. Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops. In: Mansfeld's World Database of Agricultural and Horticultural Crops . Gatersleben, Germany: Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research (IPK).http://mansfeld.ipk-gatersleben.de/apex/f?p=185:3:0::NO
Herrera, K., Lorence, D. H., Flynn, T., Balick, M. J., 2010. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia with Local Names and Uses. Allertonia, 10, 1-192. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23193787
Howard, F. W., Moore, D., Giblin-Davis, R. M., Abad, R. G., 2001. Insects on palms, [ed. by Howard, F. W., Moore, D., Giblin-Davis, R. M., Abad, R. G.]. Wallingford, UK: CABI Publishing.xiv + 400 pp. doi:10.1079/9780851993263.0000
Kubitzki K, Huber H, 1998. The families and genera of vascular plants, volume III: Flowering plants. Monocotyledons: Lilianae (except Orchidaceae), Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag.478 pp.
Neal, MC, 1965. In gardens of Hawaii. Special Publication 50. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Press.924 pp.
NIIR Board of Consultants and Engineers, 2005. Natural Fibres Handbook with Cultivation and Uses, New Delhi, India: National Institute of Industrial Research.560 pp.
Oviedo Prieto, R., Herrera Oliver, P., Caluff, M. G., et al., 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba, 6(Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.
Pachacuti, 2020. Pachacuti. Leek, UK: Pachacuti Ltd.https://www.panamas.co.uk/
Space, J. C., Flynn, T., 2002. Report to the Government of Samoa on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Honolulu, USA: USDA Forest Service.83 pp. http://www.hear.org/pier/reports/sreport.htm
Space, J. C., Flynn, T., 2002. Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. In: Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern . Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service.146 pp. http://www.hear.org/pier/pdf/cook_islands_report.pdf
Space, J. C., Waterhouse, B. M., Miles, J. E., Tiobech, J., Rengulbai, K., 2003. Report to the Republic of Palau on invasive plant species of environmental concern. In: Report to the Republic of Palau on invasive plant species of environmental concern . Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry.https://www.sprep.org/att/IRC/eCOPIES/Countries/Palau/11.pdf
Staples GW, Herbst DR, 2005. A Tropical Garden Flora: Plants Cultivated in the Hawaiian Islands and Other Tropical Places, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bishop Museum Press.
USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx
USDA-ARS, 2020. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory.https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Charles Darwin Foundation, 2008. Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos. In: Database inventory of introduced plant species in the rural and urban zones of Galapagos, Galapagos, Ecuador: Charles Darwin Foundation. unpaginated.
Chong K Y, Tan H T W, Corlett R T, 2009. A checklist of the total vascular plant flora of Singapore: native, naturalised and cultivated species. Singapore: Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, National University of Singapore. 273 pp. https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/app/uploads/2017/04/flora_of_singapore_tc.pdf
Fosberg FR, 1997. Preliminary checklist of the flowering plants and ferns of the Society islands., [ed. by Stoddart DR]. California, USA: University of California, Berkeley.
Herrera K, Lorence D H, Flynn T, Balick M J, 2010. Checklist of the Vascular Plants of Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia with Local Names and Uses. Allertonia. 1-192. https://www.jstor.org/stable/23193787
Neal MC, 1965. In gardens of Hawaii. Special Publication 50., Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: Bernice P. Bishop Museum Press. 924 pp.
Oviedo Prieto R, Herrera Oliver P, Caluff M G, et al, 2012. National list of invasive and potentially invasive plants in the Republic of Cuba - 2011. (Lista nacional de especies de plantas invasoras y potencialmente invasoras en la República de Cuba - 2011). Bissea: Boletín sobre Conservación de Plantas del Jardín Botánico Nacional de Cuba. 6 (Special Issue No. 1), 22-96.
Space J C, Flynn T, 2002a. Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. In: Report to the Government of the Cook Islands on invasive plant species of environmental concern. Honolulu, Hawaii, USA: USDA Forest Service. 146 pp. http://www.hear.org/pier/pdf/cook_islands_report.pdf
Space JC, Flynn T, 2002. Report to the Government of Samoa on invasive plant species of environmental concern., Honolulu, USA: USDA Forest Service. 83 pp.
USDA-ARS, 2016. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx
USDA-ARS, 2020. Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database. In: Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Online Database, Beltsville, Maryland, USA: National Germplasm Resources Laboratory. https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx
ContributorsTop of page
23/11/16: Original text by:
Shruti Dube, Department of Botany, Smithsonian NMNH, Washington, DC, USA
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