Tree 5-15 m tall; stems ferruginous-tomentose, glabrescent, conspicuously lenticellate. Leaves paripinnate or imparipinnate; petiole plus rachis 7-12 cm long, tomentulose; leaflets 2-4 pairs, alternate or subopposite, coriaceous to chartaceous, adaxially glabrous, abaxially ferruginous-tomentose or tomentulose, with prominent network of veins, obovate to oblanceolate, 5-15 × 2.5-7 cm (basal leaflets smaller than distal ones), the apex obtuse or retuse, the base obtuse, slightly unequal, the margins serrate, revolute. Thyrses axillary, 15-20 cm long, paniculate; axes densely ferruginous-tomentose; bracts subulate, tomentose, ca. 2.5 mm long; flowers in compound or simple dichasia. Sepals narrowly ovate, ca. 3.5 mm long, ferruginous-tomentose; petals white, rhombate, clawed, tomentulose, with 2 marginal appendages; disc cupular, pubescent; filaments tomentose at base. Capsule trigonous-depressed-globose to turbinate, 3-locular, 1-1.5 cm long, shortly stipitate, pericarp woody, ca. 5 mm thick, outer surface densely ferruginous-sericeous, inner surface densely creamish lanose. Seeds ellipsoid, ca. 1 cm long, blackish or dark brown, with an orangish fleshy coat on lower half.
Greater Antilles present, Lesser Antilles present, South America present, Southern America
Central America, Greater Antilles, Lesser Antilles, and South America (SU: 2; FG: 1).
¹A previous lectotypification of this name by Pennington [in Jarvis et al. (ed.)] Regnum Veg. 127: 40. 1993) as Plumier (Burman ed.) Nov. Pl. Amer. tab. 110. 1757, is here superseded because this element was not cited in Linnaeus’ original description of
Cupania americana. Linnaeus instead, cited Plumier, Nov. Pl. Amer. Gen. 45. 1703. (Tab 19.1), which is a highly inadequate illustration to be used as the type for C. americana, therefore, an epitype is necessary. Cupania americana is herein treated in the wide sense and includes several of the species recognized by Radlkofer in his treatment of the family Sapindaceae (1931-1934). Further studies are necessary before infraspecific taxa could be recognized within this species complex.