Chelonanthus purpurascens

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Chelonanthus purpurascens


Erect rarely prostrate herb to subshrub, up to 2.7 m high, sparsely branched to branched. Stems and branches up to 0.5 cm in diam., terete, slightly 4-angled to 4-angled to 4-winged, wings 0.1-0.4(-1) mm wide; internodes 0.5-15.1 cm long. Leaves sessile to shortly petiolate, cauline, evenly distributed; petiole 2-20 mm long; blade membranaceous to rarely coriaceous, elliptic, ovate to lanceolate, rarely ellipticly orbicular to ovately orbicular, 1-13.3 x 0.4-5.1 cm, margin not thickened, flat, apex acute, acuminate to rarely obtuse, base attenuate, acute to obtuse, lower leaves attenuate. Inflorescence 1-39-flowered; bracts ovate with acute apex or oblong with obtuse apex, 0.1-3.2(-5.7) mm long; pedicel 4-20 mm long. Flowers horizontal to nodding; calyx green, 4-10 x 3-6 mm, lobes ovate to circular, 2-5 x 2-3 mm, margin membranaceous, apex acute to obtuse; corolla blue, purple, lavender, inner side of throat sometimes white, funnel-shaped to tubular, sometimes nearly campanulate, 18-72(-87) mm long, 9-36 mm wide at mouth, lobes ovate to circular, 5-17 x 3-14 mm, apex obtuse; stamens not exserted, sometimes longest exceeds corolla slightly, filaments 16-45 mm long, strongly curved close to anther, anthers white, yellow to orange, oblong, 2.6-6.7 mm long, recurved; pollen exine differentially reticulated with polar loops (see Maguire & Boom, 1989; Nilsson, 1970, 2002); pistil 27-44 mm long, ovary 4-5.4 x 1.2-1.3 mm, style 20-50 mm long, stigma lobe elliptic, 1.9-5.4 x 0.7-2.1 mm. Fruit horizontal to nodding, brown, ellipsoid, 6-20 x 3-9 mm; seeds brown, 0.1-0.4 mm in diam.


Guianas present present, Southern America: Bolivia (Bolivia present); Colombia (Colombia present); Ecuador (Ecuador present); Peru (Peru present); Venezuela (Venezuela present)
Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and Brazil; 362 collections studied, of which 239 from the Guianas (GU: 117; SU: 47; FG: 75).

Common Name

English (French Guiana): amanwei; English (Guyana): euri-balli, wild tabacco


Flowering and fruiting .


In Guyana an infusion of the leaves was used by the Arawaks for smallpox (according to Harrison 1345), and has been used against fungal infections (according to Hoffman & Patterson 878).


Aubl. 1775 – In: Hist. Pl. Guiane: tab. 79


Chelonanthus purpurascens has had a confusing taxonomic history with several misused or invalid names associated with it. Kunth (1819) described Lisianthus purpurascens (note the change in spelling from Aublet's use) based on material he considered to be something other than the species Aublet described in 1775. Grisebach (1839) agreed that Aublet's Lisyanthus purpurascens and Kunth's Lisianthus purpurascens were different taxa and therefore transferred Kunth’s taxon to L. uliginosus as variety guianensis. This name is invalid since Grisebach did not specify any other varieties of L. uliginosus.
In the same publication, Grisebach also described Lisyanthus fistulosus (Poir.) Griseb. (synonym of C. alatus (Aubl.) Pulle) as a purple-flowered plant, even though Poiret's (1814) first description cites a yellow-flowered Lisianthus. Grisebach continued to support that “the authentic” L. fistulosus was purple-flowered and part of the L. purpurascens complex (Grisebach, 1845, 1862). Other taxonomic treatments followed Grisebach's invalid description of Lisyanthus fistulosus as a purple-flowered gentian (Lemée, 1953; Progel, 1865). The stout stem and large leaves of the type specimen of L. fistulosus is not similar to that of C. purpurascens and this name, in adhering to Poiret's original description, has been placed, in this treatment, as a synonym to C. alatus (Aubl.) Pulle.
In 1845, Grisebach classified the purple-flowered Lisianthus into section Chelonanthus where he combined L. purpurascens Kunth, L. uliginosus var. guianensis Griseb. and L. grandiflorus Willd. (based on an undescribed specimen with large purple flowers) into Lisianthus uliginosus var. grandiflorus. Again, Grisebach specified only one variety and therefore the name is invalid. This taxon should not be confused with Lisyanthus grandiflorus Aubl., a synonym of Chelonanthus grandiflorus (Aubl.) Chodat & Hassl. described above.