Chelonanthus alatus

Primary tabs

Chelonanthus alatus


Herb to subshrub, up to 2.5 m high, unbranched to sparsley branched. Stems and branches up to 1.1 cm in diam., strongly quadrangular, 4-angled to 4-winged, wings 0.1-1.3 mm wide; internodes 0.5-30.3(-47.3) cm long. Leaves sessile, cauline, evenly distributed along stem; blade membranaceous, elliptic, 2.9-23.2 x 1.2-8(-12) cm, margin not thickened, flat, apex acute to acuminate, base attenuate, obtuse to truncate. Inflorescence 3-100-flowered; bracts ovate with obtuse (acute) apex, 0.8-9.4 mm long; pedicel 4-9 mm long. Flowers erect to horizontal; calyx green, 4-8 x 3-6 mm, lobes ovate, 2-6 x 2-4 mm, margin membranaceous, apex obtuse; corolla white, cream, with dark green spot on apex of each corolla lobe, funnel-shaped to campanulate, 20-50 mm long, 8-21 mm wide at mouth, lobes ovate, 3-11 x 4-13 mm, apex obtuse or acuminate; stamens exserted or not, filaments 14-40 mm long, straight, or curved downward close to anther, anthers white to pale green, oblong, 2-3.8 mm long, straight to slightly curved; pollen exine with muri fragmented into elongated to knob-like processes that are thickened along equatorial zone (see Hequet, 2007; Maguire & Boom, 1989; Nilsson, 1970, 2002); pistil 24-34 mm long, ovary 4.4-5.6 x 2.1-2.6 mm, style 14-23 mm long, stigma lobe elliptic to obovate, 2.8-4.4 x 1.1-2.3 mm. Fruit nodding, brown, 8-23 x 3-10 mm; seeds brown, 0.1-0.4 mm in diam.


Brazilian Guianian Shield present, Guianas present present, Southern America: Brazil North (Roraima present); Venezuela (Venezuela present), Trinidad present
Venezuela, Trinidad, the Guianas, Brazilian Guianian Shield (Roraima); 101 collections studied, of which 53 from the Guianas (GU: 12; SU: 15; FG: 26).

Common Name

English (Guyana): wild tobacco; English (Suriname): pepiatamit, pipjataner, sabama tabaka, todo tabaka, todo tabalso


Flowering and fruiting .


The leaves have been used to relieve itching in Suriname (Archer 2652) and as a bitter in Guyana (McDowell & Stobey 3831).


Aubl. 1775 – In: Hist. Pl. Guiane: tab. 80


Chelonanthus alatus is defined here in a much stricter sense than has been employed in recent taxonomic treatments (Maas, 1985; Pringle, 1995; Struwe et al., 1999). C. alatus sensu stricto is the result of a phylogenetic analysis of nuclear markers, ITS and 5S-NTS, revealing C. alatus sensu lato as polyphyletic with the placement of C. alatus specimens in 3 separate clades (Lepis, 2009). As a result of further taxonomic research, it was also revealed that the type of C. alatus is conspecific with the type of C. longistylus and descriptions of their morphology and geography agree (Lepis, 2009). C. longistylus is therefore included here as a synonym of C. alatus.
For details on the inclusion of C. fistulosus in this taxon, see notes under C. purpurascens.