Peperomia obtusifolia

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Peperomia obtusifolia


Epiphytic, epilithic or terrestrial herb. Stem erect, creeping or ascending, rooting at nodes, glabrous, green or green with red spots. Leaves alternate, basely attached; petiole green or green with red spots, 1-6.5 cm long, more or less grooved, minutely pubescent; blade shiny green, pale green below, coriaceous, often with red spots, elliptic, obovate or subspathulate, 4-14.5 x 2.5-6.5 cm, apex rounded, obtuse or emarginate, base cuneate, glabrous; venation obvious or hardly visible, ca, 7-pli-veined, or few veins branching off primary vein. Inflorescence terminal, solitary or few together; both the common peduncle and those of individual spikes bracteate, green or pinkish, slender (when dried) or not slender, together 1-14 cm long, usually minutely pubescent; spikes to 18 cm long, greenish white to yellow, densely flowered; floral bracts rounded, 2-4 mm in diam., glabrous, glandular. Fruits basely attached, ellipsoid, verruculose, reddish brown or blackish, apex abruptly contracted into slender beak, which is curved or curled at tip, stigma at base of beak.


C and northern S America present, Northern America, Southern America
Mexico, West Indies, C and northern S America; ca. 100 collections studied (GU: 37; SU: 25; FG: 36).


There is quite some confusion about the limitation of Peperomia magnoliifolia and P. obtusifolia. Burger (1971: 52) considered the two taxa to be conspecific. Several authors, e.g. Howard (1973: 386) and Steyermark (1984: 165), have arguments to keep P. obtusifolia and P. magnoliifolia apart. Not only the morphological characters may distinguish the two taxa, like the indument of the petiole (minutely pubescent in P. obtusifolia vs. glabrous in P. magnoliifolia), the size of the bracts (diameter 2-4 mm in P. obtusifolia vs. 5-7 mm in P. magnoliifolia), and the shape of the fruit and the beak: (ellipsoid, abruptly contracted into the beak which is curved or curled at the tip in P. obtusifolia vs. gradually tapering into the beak, which is slightly hooked at the very tip in P. magnoliifolia). Also the chromosomal analyses show differences (information from José & Sharma). These arguments seem sound and it was not the right decision made by Kramer & Görts (1968: 420) to take the two species together.
After having studied the material at hand and with the knowledge of the morphology of the living plants G. Mathieu and I are convinced that there are two separate taxa.
It is difficult to tell sterile dried specimens apart. The living plants, however, may be recognized by leaf texture: P. magnoliifolia being fleshy, P. obtusifolia coriaceous.
In herbaria many specimens may have been incorrectly named. Both species do not seem to develop many fruits. On the long spikes often only a few can be found, sometimes even abortive. The beak, however, has also then been developed.
Steyermark, l.c.: 162, discerned the following four varieties: P. obtusifolia var. obtusifolia, var. emarginulata (C. DC.) Trel. & Yunck., var. emarginata (Ruiz & Pav.) Dahlst. and var. cuneata (Miq.) Griseb. They are difficult to separate. P. obtusifolia var. emarginata is known to occur in Venezuela (Tachira) from 450-650 m elev.; no collections have been reported from the Guianas, whereas var. emarginulata may be represented by a French Guianan collection from Kaw Mts. (Cremers 12427).
See also note to P. haematolepis.