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Caribbean Trumpet Tree (Tabebuia aurea) fruit & flowers W IMG 7055.jpg
Tabebuia aurea
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Lamiales
Family: Bignoniaceae
Tribe: Tecomeae
Gomes ex A.P. de Candolle
Type species
Tabebuia cassinoides
A.P. de Candolle

approximately 67 species. See text

Synonyms [1]
  • LeucoxylonRaf.
  • PotamoxylonRaf.
  • ProterpiaRaf.
  • CouraliaSplitg.
3 seeds with septum and valves of split pod of Tabebuia sp. at MHNT Tabebuia sp. MHNT.BOT.2009.7.18.jpg
3 seeds with septum and valves of split pod of Tabebuia sp. at MHNT

Tabebuia is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. [2] The common name "roble" is sometimes found in English. Tabebuias have been called "trumpet trees", but this name is usually applied to other trees and has become a source of confusion and misidentification.

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

Flowering plant clade of flowering plants (in APG I-III)

The flowering plants, also known as angiosperms, Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants, with 416 families, approximately 13,164 known genera and c. 369,000 known species. Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are seed-producing plants. However, they are distinguished from gymnosperms by characteristics including flowers, endosperm within the seeds, and the production of fruits that contain the seeds. Etymologically, angiosperm means a plant that produces seeds within an enclosure; in other words, a fruiting plant. The term comes from the Greek words angeion and sperma ("seed").

Family is one of the eight major hierarcical taxonomic ranks in Linnaean taxonomy; it is classified between order and genus. A family may be divided into subfamilies, which are intermediate ranks between the ranks of family and genus. The official family names are Latin in origin; however, popular names are often used: for example, walnut trees and hickory trees belong to the family Juglandaceae, but that family is commonly referred to as being the "walnut family".


Tabebuia consists almost entirely of trees, but a few are often large shrubs. A few species produce timber, but the genus is mostly known for those that are cultivated as flowering trees. [3]

Tree Perennial woody plant with elongated trunk

In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. In wider definitions, the taller palms, tree ferns, bananas, and bamboos are also trees. Trees have been in existence for 370 million years. It is estimated that there are just over 3 trillion mature trees in the world.

Shrub type of plant

A shrub or bush is a small- to medium-sized woody plant. Unlike herbs, shrubs have persistent woody stems above the ground. They are distinguished from trees by their multiple stems and shorter height, and are usually under 6 m (20 ft) tall. Plants of many species may grow either into shrubs or trees, depending on their growing conditions. Small, low shrubs, generally less than 2 m (6.6 ft) tall, such as lavender, periwinkle and most small garden varieties of rose, are often termed "subshrubs".

In biology, a species ( ) is the basic unit of classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individuals of the appropriate sexes or mating types can produce fertile offspring, typically by sexual reproduction. Other ways of defining species include their karyotype, DNA sequence, morphology, behaviour or ecological niche. In addition, paleontologists use the concept of the chronospecies since fossil reproduction cannot be examined. While these definitions may seem adequate, when looked at more closely they represent problematic species concepts. For example, the boundaries between closely related species become unclear with hybridisation, in a species complex of hundreds of similar microspecies, and in a ring species. Also, among organisms that reproduce only asexually, the concept of a reproductive species breaks down, and each clone is potentially a microspecies.

Tabebuia is native to the American tropics and subtropics from Mexico and the Caribbean to Argentina. Most of the species are from Cuba and Hispaniola. [4] It is commonly cultivated and often naturalized or adventive beyond its natural range. It easily escapes cultivation because of its numerous, wind-borne seeds. [5]

In biogeography, a species is indigenous to a given region or ecosystem if its presence in that region is the result of only natural processes, with no human intervention. The term is equivalent to the concept of native or autochthonous species. Every wild organism has its own natural range of distribution in which it is regarded as indigenous. Outside this native range, a species may be introduced by human activity, either intentionally or unintentionally; it is then referred to as an introduced species within the regions where it was anthropogenically introduced.

Americas landmass comprising the continents of North America and South America

The Americas comprise the totality of the continents of North and South America. Together, they make up most of the land in Earth's western hemisphere and comprise the New World.

Tropics region of the Earth surrounding the Equator

The tropics are the region of the Earth surrounding the Equator. They are delimited in latitude by The Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.4368°) N and the Tropic of Capricorn in the Southern Hemisphere at 23°26′12.5″ (or 23.4368°) S; these latitudes correspond to the axial tilt of the Earth. The tropics are also referred to as the tropical zone and the torrid zone. The tropics include all the areas on the Earth where the Sun contacts a point directly overhead at least once during the solar year - thus the latitude of the tropics is roughly equal to the angle of the Earth's axial tilt.

In 1992, a revision of Tabebuia described 99 species and one hybrid. [6] Phylogenetic studies of DNA sequences later showed that Tabebuia, as then circumscribed, was polyphyletic. [4] In 2007, it was divided into three separate genera. [7] Primavera ( Roseodendron donnell-smithii ) and a related species with no unique common name ( Roseodendron chryseum ) were transferred to Roseodendron . Those species known as ipê and pau d'arco (in Portuguese) or poui were transferred to Handroanthus . Sixty-seven species remained in Tabebuia. The former genus and polyphyletic group of 99 species described by Gentry in 1992 is now usually referred to as "Tabebuia sensu lato". [7]

A species description is a formal description of a newly discovered species, usually in the form of a scientific paper. Its purpose is to give a clear description of a new species of organism and explain how it differs from species which have been described previously or are related. The species description often contains photographs or other illustrations of the type material and states in which museums it has been deposited. The publication in which the species is described gives the new species a formal scientific name. Some 1.9 million species have been identified and described, out of some 8.7 million that may actually exist. Millions more have become extinct.

Hybrid (biology) offspring of cross-species reproduction

In biology, a hybrid is the offspring resulting from combining the qualities of two organisms of different breeds, varieties, species or genera through sexual reproduction. Hybrids are not always intermediates between their parents, but can show hybrid vigour, sometimes growing larger or taller than either parent. The concept of a hybrid is interpreted differently in animal and plant breeding, where there is interest in the individual parentage. In genetics, attention is focused on the numbers of chromosomes. In taxonomy, a key question is how closely related the parent species are.

Research formal work undertaken systematically to increase the stock of knowledge

Research comprises "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge, including knowledge of humans, culture and society, and the use of this stock of knowledge to devise new applications." It is used to establish or confirm facts, reaffirm the results of previous work, solve new or existing problems, support theorems, or develop new theories. A research project may also be an expansion on past work in the field. Research projects can be used to develop further knowledge on a topic, or in the example of a school research project, they can be used to further a student's research prowess to prepare them for future jobs or reports. To test the validity of instruments, procedures, or experiments, research may replicate elements of prior projects or the project as a whole. The primary purposes of basic research are documentation, discovery, interpretation, or the research and development (R&D) of methods and systems for the advancement of human knowledge. Approaches to research depend on epistemologies, which vary considerably both within and between humanities and sciences. There are several forms of research: scientific, humanities, artistic, economic, social, business, marketing, practitioner research, life, technological, etc.


Young leaves of Tabebuia aurea Leaves I IMG 4036.jpg
Young leaves of Tabebuia aurea

All of the species in the first two columns below were recognized and described by Gentry in 1992. [6] Listed in the third column are species names that have been used recently, but were not accepted by Gentry. The currently accepted synonym for each is in parentheses.

Alwyn Howard Gentry American botanist

Alwyn Howard Gentry was an American botanist and plant collector, who made major contributions to the understanding of the vegetation of tropical forests.

In scientific nomenclature, a synonym is a scientific name that applies to a taxon that (now) goes by a different scientific name, although the term is used somewhat differently in the zoological code of nomenclature. For example, Linnaeus was the first to give a scientific name to the Norway spruce, which he called Pinus abies. This name is no longer in use: it is now a synonym of the current scientific name, Picea abies.

Some recently used names in Tabebuia that were not recognized by Gentry are not listed in the third column below because they apply to species that are now in Handroanthus . Tabebuia spectabilis is an obsolete name for Handroanthus chrysanthus ssp. meridionalis. Tabebuia ecuadorensis is now synonymized under Handroanthus billbergii . Tabebuia heteropoda is now synonymized under Handroanthus ochraceus .

<i>Handroanthus</i> genus of plants

Handroanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. It consists of 30 species of trees, known in Latin America by the common names poui, pau d'arco, or ipê. The latter sometimes appears as epay or simply ipe (unaccented) in English. The large timber species are sometimes called lapacho or guayacan, but these names are more properly applied to the species Handroanthus lapacho and Handroanthus guayacan, respectively.

Subspecies taxonomic rank subordinate to species

In biological classification, the term subspecies refers to a unity of populations of a species living in a subdivision of the species' global range and varies from other populations of the same species by morphological characteristics. A subspecies cannot be recognized independently. A species is either recognized as having no subspecies at all or at least two, including any that are extinct. The term is abbreviated subsp. in botany and bacteriology, or ssp. in zoology. The plural is the same as the singular: subspecies.

No species that is now assigned to Roseodendron or to Handroanthus is listed below.

Authorities are cited for some of the names below. These can be found in Gentry (1992) [6] or at the International Plant Names Index. [8]

  • T. anafensisUrb. (T. myrtifolia var. petrophila)
  • T. aquatilis (T. fluviatilis)
  • T. argentea (T. aurea)
  • T. furfuracea (T. bibracteolata)
  • T. leucoxyla (T. obtusifolia)
  • T. oligolepis (T. shaferi)
  • T. pentaphylla (T. rosea)
  • T. uliginosa (T. cassinoides)


Flower of Pink Poui ( Tabebuia rosea ) Tabebuia rosea 0001.jpg
Flower of Pink Poui ( Tabebuia rosea )

The description below is excerpted from Grose and Olmstead (2007). [7]

Tabebuia is distinguished from Handroanthus by wood that is not especially hard or heavy, and not abruptly divided into heartwood and sapwood. Lapachol is absent. Scales are present, but no hair. The calyx is usually spathaceous in Tabebuia, but never so in Handroanthus. Only two species of Tabebuia are yellow-flowered, but most species of Handroanthus are.

Unlike Roseodendron, the calyx of Tabebuia is always distinctly harder and thicker than the corolla. Tabebuia always has a dichotomously branched inflorescence; never a central rachis as in Roseodendron. Some species of Tabebuia have ribbed fruit, but not as conspicuously so as the two species of Roseodendron.

Tabebuia sprout Tabebuia sprout.jpg
Tabebuia sprout


The wood of Tabebuia is light to medium in weight. Tabebuia rosea (including T. pentaphylla) is an important timber tree of tropical America. [9] Tabebuia heterophylla and Tabebuia angustata are the most important timber trees of some of the Caribbean islands. Their wood is of medium weight and is exceptionally durable in contact with salt water. [10]

The swamp species of Tabebuia have wood that is unusually light in weight. The most prominent example of these is Tabebuia cassinoides. Its roots produce a soft and spongy wood that is used for floats, razor strops, and the inner soles of shoes. [10]

In spite of its use for lumber, Tabebuia is best known as an ornamental flowering tree. Tabebuia aurea, Tabebuia rosea, Tabebuia pallida, Tabebuia berteroi, and Tabebuia heterophylla are cultivated throughout the tropics for their showy flowers. [5] Tabebuia dubia, Tabebuia haemantha, Tabebuia obtusifolia, Tabebuia nodosa, and Tabebuia roseo-alba are also known in cultivation and are sometimes locally abundant. [11]

Some species of Tabebuia have been grown as honey plants by beekeepers. [12]

Tabebuia heteropoda, Tabebuia incana, and other species are occasionally used as an additive to the entheogenic drink Ayahuasca. [13]

Pau d'arco is promoted as a treatment for a number of human ailments, including cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, "available evidence from well-designed, controlled studies does not support this substance as an effective treatment for cancer in humans", and using it risks harmful side-effects. [14]


The nectar of Tabebuia flowers is an important food source for several species of bees and hummingbirds. [12]


Tabebuia rosea is the national tree of El Salvador and the state tree of Cojedes, Venezuela.

Taxonomic history

Trunk of Cuban Pink Trumpet Tree ( Tabebuia pallida ) Plaque-Tabebuia-pallida-Reunion.JPG
Trunk of Cuban Pink Trumpet Tree ( Tabebuia pallida )

The name Tabebuia entered the botanical literature in 1803, when António Bernardino Gomes used it as a common name for Tabebuia uliginosa, now a synonym for Tabebuia cassinoides, which he described as a species of Bignonia . [15] Tabebuia is an abbreviation of "tacyba bebuya", a Tupi name meaning "ant wood". [16] Among the Indigenous peoples in Brazil, similar names exist for various species of Tabebuia. [17]

Tabebuia was first used as a generic name by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle in 1838. [8] [18] The type species for the genus is Tabebuia uliginosa, which is now a synonym for Tabebuia cassinoides . [19] Confusion soon ensued over the meaning of Tabebuia and what to include within it. Most of the misunderstanding was cleared up by Nathaniel Lord Britton in 1915. [20] Britton revived the concept of Tabebuia that had been originated in 1876 by Bentham and Hooker, consisting of species with either simple or palmately compound leaves. [21] Similar plants with pinnately compound leaves were placed in Tecoma . This is the concept of Tabebuia that was usually followed until 2007.

The genus Roseodendron was established by Faustino Miranda González in 1965 for the two species now known as Roseodendron donnell-smithii and Roseodendron chryseum . [22] These species had been placed in Cybistax by Russell J. Seibert in 1940, [23] but were returned to Tabebuia by Alwyn H. Gentry in 1992. [6]

Handroanthus was established by Joáo Rodrigues de Mattos in 1970. [24] Gentry did not agree with the segregation of Handroanthus from Tabebuia and warned against "succumbing to further paroxysms of unwarranted splitting". [25] In 1992, Gentry published a revision of Tabebuia in Flora Neotropica, in which he described 99 species and 1 hybrid, including those species placed by some authors in Roseodendron or Handroanthus. [6] Gentry divided Tabebuia into 10 "species groups", some of them intentionally artificial. Tabebuia, as currently circumscribed, consists of groups 2,6,7,8,9, and 10. Group 1 is now the genus Roseodendron. Groups 3,4, and 5 compose the genus Handroanthus.

In 2007, a molecular phylogenetic study found Handroanthus to be closer to a certain group of four genera than to Tabebuia. [4] This group consists of Spirotecoma , Parmentiera , Crescentia , and Amphitecna . A phylogenetic tree can be seen at Bignoniaceae. Handroanthus was duly resurrected and 30 species were assigned to it, with species boundaries the same as those of Gentry (1992).

Roseodendron was resolved as sister to a clade consisting of Handroanthus and four other genera. This result had only weak statistical support, but Roseodendron clearly did not group with the remainder of Tabebuia. Consequently, Roseodendron was resurrected in its original form. [7] The remaining 67 species of Tabebuia formed a strongly supported clade that is sister to Ekmanianthe , a genus of two species from Cuba and Hispaniola. Tabebuia had been traditionally placed in the tribe Tecomeae, but that tribe is now defined much more narrowly than it had been, and it now excludes Tabebuia. [26] Tabebuia is now one of 12 to 14 genera belonging to a group that is informally called the Tabebuia alliance. This group has not been placed at any particular taxonomic rank.

Cladistic analysis of DNA data has strongly supported Tabebuia by Bayesian inference and maximum parsimony. Such studies have so far revealed almost nothing about relationships within the genus, placing nearly all of the sampled species in a large polytomy.

See also

Related Research Articles

Lamiaceae family of plants

The Lamiaceae or Labiatae are a family of flowering plants commonly known as the mint or deadnettle family. Many of the plants are aromatic in all parts and include widely used culinary herbs, such as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and perilla. Some species are shrubs, trees, or, rarely, vines. Many members of the family are widely cultivated, not only for their aromatic qualities, but also their ease of cultivation, since they are readily propagated by stem cuttings. Besides those grown for their edible leaves, some are grown for decorative foliage, such as Coleus. Others are grown for seed, such as Salvia hispanica (chia), or for their edible tubers, such as Plectranthus edulis, Plectranthus esculentus, Plectranthus rotundifolius, and Stachys affinis.

Oleaceae family of plants

The Oleaceae are a family of flowering plants in the order Lamiales. It presently comprises 26 genera, one of which is recently extinct. The 25 extant genera include Cartrema, which was resurrected in 2012. The number of species in the Oleaceae is variously estimated in a wide range around 700. The Oleaceae consist of shrubs, trees, and a few lianas. The flowers are often numerous and highly odoriferous. The family has a subcosmopolitan distribution, ranging from the subarctic to the southernmost parts of Africa, Australia, and South America. Notable members of the Oleaceae include olive, ash, jasmine, and several popular ornamental plants including privet, forsythia, fringetrees, and lilac.

Bignoniaceae family of plants

Bignoniaceae is a family of flowering plants in the order Lamiales commonly known as the bignonias. It is not known to which of the other families in the order it is most closely related.

Phrymaceae family of plants

Phrymaceae, also known as the lopseed family, is a small family of flowering plants in the order Lamiales. It has a nearly cosmopolitan distribution, but is concentrated in two centers of diversity, one in Australia, the other in western North America. Members of this family occur in diverse habitats, including deserts, river banks and mountains.

<i>Clinopodium</i> genus of plants

Clinopodium is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae. It is in the tribe Mentheae of the subfamily Nepetoideae, but little else can be said with certainty about its phylogenetic position.

<i>Raukaua</i> genus of plants

Raukaua is a genus of flowering plants in the family Araliaceae. It has an austral distribution, being indigenous to southern Argentina and Chile, as well as New Zealand and the island of Tasmania.

<i>Tetraplasandra</i> genus of plants

Tetraplasandra is an obsolete genus of flowering plants in the ivy family, Araliaceae. They are small to medium trees, of mesic to wet forests.

<i>Handroanthus impetiginosus</i> species of plant

Handroanthus impetiginosus, pink ipê, pink lapacho, or pink trumpet tree is a native tree of family Bignoniaceae of the Americas, distributed from northern Mexico south to northern Argentina. Lapacho is the national tree of Paraguay, and it is also a common tree in Argentina's northeastern region, as well as in southeastern Bolivia. According to Native Trees of Trinidad and Tobago, this tree is not indigenous to Trinidad, it is introduced.

Lapachol chemical compound

Lapachol is a natural phenolic compound isolated from the bark of the lapacho tree. This tree is known botanically as Handroanthus impetiginosus, but was formerly known by various other botanical names such as Tabebuia avellanedae. Lapachol is also found in other species of Handroanthus.

<i>Guettarda</i> genus of plants

Guettarda is a plant genus in the family Rubiaceae. Most of these plants are known by the common name Velvetseed. Estimates of the number of species range from about 50 to 162. Most of the species are neotropical. Twenty are found in New Caledonia and one reaches Australia. A few others are found on islands and in coastal areas of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

<i>Lasianthus</i> genus of plants

Lasianthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Rubiaceae. They are tropical subshrubs, shrubs, or rarely, small trees. They inhabit the understory of primary forests. None of them are known to have any use.

<i>Handroanthus chrysotrichus</i> species of plant

Handroanthus chrysotrichus, synonym Tabebuia chrysotricha, commonly known as the golden trumpet tree, is a semi-evergreen/semi-deciduous tree from Brazil. It is very similar to and often confused with Tabebuia ochracea. In Portuguese it is called ipê amarelo and is considered the national tree of Brazil.

When the APG II system of plant classification was published in April 2003, fifteen genera and three families were placed incertae sedis in the angiosperms, and were listed in a section of the appendix entitled "Taxa of uncertain position".

<i>Roseodendron</i> genus of plants

Roseodendron is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. It consists of two species, Roseodendron donnell-smithii and Roseodendron chryseum. The type species for the genus is R. donnell-smithii. Both species are cultivated as ornamentals for their numerous, large, yellow flowers.

Ekmanianthe is a genus of flowering plants in the family Bignoniaceae. It is most closely related to Tabebuia and has sometimes been included within it. It consists of two species of trees, neither of which is especially common in any part of its range. Ekmanianthe longiflora grows to 18 m (59 ft) in height and is native to Haiti and the rocky uplands of central Cuba. Ekmanianthe actinophylla is a smaller tree, to 10 m (33 ft) in height, and it occurs in western Cuba where it is known as "roble caimán", for the resemblance of its trunk bark to the hide of a caiman. "Roble" is a Spanish name that is also applied to Tabebuia. Neither of the species of Ekmanianthe is known in cultivation. The type species for Ekmanianthe is E. longiflora. The wood of Ekmanianthe has been variously described as "soft" or as "very hard, heavy, and strong". Despite this, like many other Tecomeae species, it is rarely cultivated.

<i>Astianthus</i> genus of plants

Astianthus is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the Bignoniaceae family. The sole species is Astianthus viminalis. It is known by the common names achuchil in Mexico and chilca in Guatemala and Honduras.

<i>Handroanthus heptaphyllus</i> species of plant

Handroanthus heptaphyllus, commonly referred to as the pink trumpet tree or pink tab, is a Bignoniaceae tree native to tropical and sup-tropical regions of South America. It grows in the high forest watershed of the Paraná River, Paraguay River and Uruguay River. It has a limited distribution, almost exclusively inhabiting low lands with wet and deep soils, where it forms part of the upper layer of tree cover.

Exarata is a group of plants described as a genus in 1992.


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  12. 1 2 Luciana Baza Mendonça & Luiz dos Anjos (2005): Beija-flores (Aves, Trochilidae) e seus recursos florais em uma área urbana do Sul do Brasil [Hummingbirds (Aves, Trochilidae) and their flowers in an urban area of southern Brazil]. [Portuguese with English abstract] Revista Brasileira de Zoologia22(1): 51–59. doi : 10.1590/S0101-81752005000100007 PDF fulltext
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