Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Portia - Thespesia populnea
The Portia - Thespesia populnea, is an evergreen shrub or small bushy tree that reaches heights of 10-30 feet tall. Growing in in an erect form with either a single or multiple trunks and low branching habit. It was introduced to the United States, but is native to Old and New world tropic locations, it has escaped cultivation and established itself on disturbed sites, coastal hammocks and beaches in South Florida. In South Florida this species is considered to be invasive as it has a very weedy tendancy. Thespesia is a genus of about 17 species that are distributed only in the tropical parts of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Australia.
Image Citation: Dan Clark, USDI National Park Service, Bugwood.org
The leaves of the Portia are alternate, simple, ovate, with a heart shaped base and long pointed tip. The flowers are Corrolla yellow with a red or maroon base inside of the bloom. Flowers are bell shaped about 8 cm in diameter with a staminal column about 2.5 cm long, occuring year round. The fruit that also occurs year round, is flattened or rounded in the form of a leathery capsule. When young the fruit is yellow, becoming black when mature, the seeds are brown and hairy. The bark is smooth brown with gray mollting.
Image Citation: William M. Ciesla, Forest Health Management International, Bugwood.org