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Evergreen trees or shrubs. Leaves alternate, sometimes opposite, mostly pinnately veined, but sometimes 3-veined from the base. Inflorescences of small cymes, arranged in axillary or ± terminal panicles. Flowers bisexual or unisexual. Receptacle enlarging in fruit to form a basal cupule. Tepals 6. Bisexual flowers: fertile stamens 9, in 3 whorls; those of the third whorl with glandular appendages at the base; anthers 4-celled; staminodes 3 in a fourth innermost whorl. Male flowers similar but ovary sterile. Female flowers similar but with rudimentary stamens. Fruit drupaceous, acorn-like in appearance.
Mark Hyde, Bart Wursten and Petra Ballings
bibliographic citation
Hyde, M.A., Wursten, B.T. and Ballings, P. (2002-2014). Ocotea Flora of Zimbabwe website. Accessed 28 August 2014 at http://www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/genus.php?genus_id=606
Mark Hyde
Bart Wursten
Petra Ballings
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Flora of Zimbabwe


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Ocotea is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Lauraceae. Many are evergreen trees with lauroid leaves.

There are over 520 species currently accepted within the genus,[2] distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas (around 300 species)[3] including the Caribbean and West Indies,[4][5] but also with some species in Africa, Madagascar[3] and the Mascarene Islands.[6] One species (O. foetens) is native to the Macaronesia (in Canary Islands and Madeira).[7] The genus is suspected to be paraphyletic.[8]


O. tenera leaves and fruit

They are trees or shrubs, occasionally with adventitious roots (O. hartshorniana, O. insularis). Leaves simple, alternate, rarely opposite or whorled.[9] The leaves are lauroid, they are commonly dark green glossy with sometimes brown on the underside and fragrant oil cells.[10]

The African and Madagascan species all have bisexual flowers (possessing both male and female parts), whereas many of the American species have flowers that are unisexual (either male or female).[3] The apetalous flowers are in small panicles.

The fruits are globose or oblong berries, 3–5 cm in length, hard and fleshy and at the junction of the peduncle part with the fruit covered by a cup-shaped, occasionally flat, cupule,[11] giving them an appearance similar to an acorn. The fruit is dark green, gradually darkening with maturity. The cupule at the base of the berry, can be more brightly colored. The fruit has a single seed wrapped in a hard coat and can be slightly lignified.


The genus has no standard common name. Names often refer to the aroma of the wood, which can be strong and not always pleasant. Sweetwood is usually applied only to this genus,[12] although many names are also applied to this genus and other genera:

  • Stinkwood can refer to several unrelated trees that have bad-smelling wood. Ocotea bullata is called black stinkwood or true stinkwood, and Ocotea foetens is also called stinkwood.
  • Camphorwood is usually Cinnamomum camphora a close relative of Ocotea species.
  • Rosewood (Peruvian rosewood, O. cernua) is normally Dalbergia or related members of the family Fabaceae.

The common names of some species refer to their similarity to other Lauraceae such as Sassafras (Brazilian sassafras: O. odorifera) or Laurus (Cape laurel: O. bullata, Sword laurel: O. floribunda, Guaika laurel: O. puberula, etc.).

Distribution and habitat

Most species of Ocotea are distributed across the tropical Americas, from Mexico to Northern Argentina including the West Indies. Species are also found in eastern Africa from South Africa to Ethiopia, in Gabon and Republic of the Congo in Central Africa, and on Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. One species, Ocotea foetens, is native to the Canary Islands and Madeira in the North Atlantic.[13]

Ocotea species are distributed in subtropical and tropical regions, often at higher elevations. They are characteristic plants of many tropical and subtropical montane forests such as the Araucaria moist forests, Yungas, and Talamancan montane forests in the Americas, Afromontane forests including the Knysna-Amatole montane forests in Africa, and Laurisilva in the Macaronesian islands. In Madagascar and Brazil they also occur in lowland forests.[14]


Most relatively small fruit species are of great environmental importance because they are the food of many endemic birds and mammals, especially in Islands, and premontane and montane forests.[9] The leaves of Ocotea species are the food source for the caterpillars of several species of endemic Lepidoptera, including several species of Memphis.[15] Some Memphis caterpillars feed solely on the leaves of one species of Ocotea; for example M. mora feeds only on O. cernua, and M. boisduvali feeds only on O. veraguensis[15]

Seed distribution of some Ocotea species is performed by frugivorous birds such as toucans, the three-wattled bellbird (family Cotingidae), quetzal[16] and Cape parrot.[17] Ocotea fruit is also consumed by several Columbiformes such as Columba trocaz,[18] Delegorgue's pigeon,[17] Bolle's pigeon (Columba bollii),[19] African wood pigeon,[20][21][22] and American doves.[23]

Most of the African tree species are ancient paleoendemic species,[24] which in ancient times were widely distributed on the continent.[19][24] This is not the case in the Americas: 89 species have been collected in Venezuela alone.[25]

Species of Ocotea can be attacked by various rot-inducing root pathogens, including Loweporus inflexibilis, Phellinus apiahynus[26] and Phytophthora cinnamomi.[27]

Some Ocotea species are used as nesting sites by ants, which may live in leaf pockets or in hollowed-out stems. The ants patrol their host plants more frequently in response to disturbance or to the appearance of insect pests such as grasshoppers.[28]


Dried ishpingo (O. quixos) cupules can be used as spice.

Ocotea produce essential oils, which are rich in camphor and safrole. East African camphorwood (O. usambarensis), Peruvian rosewood (O. cernua) and Brazilian sassafras (O. odorifera) are traded internationally.

Dried fruit cupules of ishpingo (O. quixos) are used in Ecuador to flavor beverages, such as colada morada.

Some fast growing Ocotea tree species are harvested commercially for timber. These include O. puberula, O. bullata (black or true stinkwood) and O. usambarensis. The timber is valued for its resistance to fungal decay.

O. odorifera (Brazilian sassafras) and O. kuhlmanni are frequently used as honey plants.

Selected species

The following are some of the species of Ocotea.[29] Distinguishing Ocotea species from Nectandra and other close relatives is problematic. Povedadaphne may be better placed in Ocotea.

Formerly placed here

Fossil record

Ocotea hradekensis from the early Miocene, has been described from fragmentary fossil leaf compressions that have been found in the Kristina Mine at Hrádek nad Nisou in North Bohemia, the Czech Republic. O. foetens from the Canary Islands is its nearest living relative.[30] FossilOcotea heerii leaf impressions of Messinian age (ca. 5.7 Ma) have been uncovered in Monte Tondo, northern Apennines, Italy.[31]


  1. ^ "Tropicos.org".
  2. ^ "Ocotea Aubl". Plants of the World Online. Board of Trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 2021. Retrieved September 6, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Henk van der Werff (1996). "Ocotea ikonyokpe, a new species of Lauraceae from Cameroon". Novon. 6 (4): 460–462. doi:10.2307/3392056. JSTOR 3392056.
  4. ^ "ITIS, Integrated Taxonomic Information System".
  5. ^ Alain H. Liogier; Luis F. Martorell (2000). Flora of Puerto Rico and Adjacent Islands: a Systematic Synopsis. ISBN 9780847703692.
  6. ^ Kostermans, Achmad Jahja (GH); Marais, W. (1979). Ocotea (Lauraceae) in the Mascarene Islands. H.M. Stationery Office. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  7. ^ da Silva Menezes de Sequeira, M.P.; Beech, E. (2017). "Ocotea foetens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2017: e.T30328A81868200. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T30328A81868200.en. Retrieved November 11, 2021.
  8. ^ Penagos Zuluaga, Juan C.; Werff, Henk; Park, Brian; Eaton, Deren A. R.; Comita, Liza S.; Queenborough, Simon A.; Donoghue, Michael J. (2021). "Resolved phylogenetic relationships in the Ocotea complex (Supraocotea) facilitate phylogenetic classification and studies of character evolution". American Journal of Botany. 108 (4): 664–679. doi:10.1002/ajb2.1632. PMID 33818757. S2CID 233026796.
  9. ^ a b José González (2007). "Flora Digital De Palo Verde" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2015. Retrieved June 14, 2012.
  10. ^ Andrés Castillo Q. (2010). "Manual dendrológico de las principales especies de interés comercial actual y potencial de la zona del Alto Huallaga" (in Spanish). Cámara Nacional Forestal.
  11. ^ Henk van der Werff (2002). "A synopsis of Ocotea (Lauraceae) in Central America and Southern Mexico". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. 89 (3): 429–451. doi:10.2307/3298602. JSTOR 3298602.
  12. ^ "Plants Profile: Ocotea Aubl". USDA. Retrieved April 1, 2008.
  13. ^ "Ocotea Aubl." Plants of the World Online, Kew Science. Accessed 28 April 2022. [1]
  14. ^ Rohwer, Jens (1986). "Prodromus einer Monographie der Gattung Ocotea Aubl. (Lauraceae), sensu lato".
  15. ^ a b Daniel H. Janzen. "About Memphis mora". Ontario Genomics Institute. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011.
  16. ^ J. Phil Gibson & Nathaniel T. Wheelwright (1995). "Genetic structure in a population of a tropical tree Ocotea tenera (Lauraceae): influence of avian seed dispersal" (PDF). Oecologia. 103 (1): 49–54. doi:10.1007/BF00328424. JSTOR 4221000. PMID 28306944. S2CID 30945748. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 23, 2015. Retrieved May 18, 2012.
  17. ^ a b "Ocotea bullata". PlantZAfrica.com. November 22, 2002. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  18. ^ Paulo Oliveira; Patricia Marrero & Manuel Nogales (2002). "Diet of the endemic Madeira laurel pigeon and fruit resource availability: a study using microhistological analyses". The Condor. 104 (4): 811–822. doi:10.1650/0010-5422(2002)104[0811:doteml]2.0.co;2. hdl:10261/22475. JSTOR 1370703. S2CID 55469944.
  19. ^ a b "MANAGEMENT of Natura 2000 habitats * Macaronesian laurel forests (Laurus, Ocotea) 9360: Directive 92/43/EEC on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora" (PDF).
  20. ^ David Gibbs (2010). Pigeons and Doves: a Guide to the Pigeons and Doves of the World. A&C Black. ISBN 9781408135563. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  21. ^ "Biodiversity Explorer: The web of life in southern Africa". Columba arquatrix (African olive-pigeon, Rameron pigeon). Biodiversityexplorer.org. Retrieved May 20, 2012.
  22. ^ Steven T. Mwihomeke; Innocent J.E. Zilihona; William C. Hamisy; Dismas Mwaseba (n.d.). "Assessment Of Forest User Groups And Their Relationship To The Condition Of The Natural Forests In The Uluguru Mountains" (PDF). Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (WCST). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 27, 2012. Retrieved May 19, 2012.
  23. ^ Mahabir P. Gupta (2006). "Medicinal Plants Originating In The Andean High Plateau And Central Valleys Region Of Bolivia, Ecuador And Peru" (PDF).
  24. ^ a b Ben H. Warren & Julie A. Hawkins (2006). "The distribution of species diversity across a flora's component lineages: dating the Cape's 'relicts'". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 273 (1598): 2149–2158. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3560. PMC 1635518. PMID 16901834.
  25. ^ Hernán E. Ferrer-Pereira (2009). "Lauraceae at the Herbario Nacional de Venezuela (VEN)" (PDF). Herbario Nacional de Venezuela.
  26. ^ P. Renvall & T. Niemelä (1993). "Ocotea usambarensis and its fungal decayers in natural stands". Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique. 62 (1/4): 403–414. doi:10.2307/3668286. JSTOR 3668286.
  27. ^ W. A. Lübbe & G. P. Mostert (1991). "Rate of Ocotea bullata decline in association with Phytophtora cinnamomi at three study sites in the Southern Cape indigenous forests". South African Forestry Journal. 159 (1): 17–24. doi:10.1080/00382167.1991.9630390.
  28. ^ Jean Stout (1979). "An association of an ant, a mealy bug, and an understory tree from a Costa Rican rain forest". Biotropica. 11 (4): 309–311. doi:10.2307/2387924. JSTOR 2387924.
  29. ^ "Ocotea Aubl". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved February 19, 2010.
  30. ^ A review of the early Miocene Mastixioid flora of the Kristina Mine at Hrádek nad Nisou in North Bohemia, The Czech Republic, January 2012 by F. Holý, Z. Kvaček and Vasilis Teodoridis - ACTA MUSEI NATIONALIS PRAGAE Series B – Historia Naturalis • vol. 68 • 2012 • no. 3–4 • pp. 53–118
  31. ^ Palaeoenvironmental analysis of the Messinian macrofossil floras of Tossignano and Monte Tondo (Vena del Gesso Basin, Romagna Apennines, northern Italy) - Vasilis Teodoridis, Zlatko Kvacek, Marco Sami and Edoardo Martinetto - December 2015 DOI: 10.14446/AMNP.2015.249.

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Ocotea: Brief Summary

provided by wikipedia EN

Ocotea is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the family Lauraceae. Many are evergreen trees with lauroid leaves.

There are over 520 species currently accepted within the genus, distributed mostly in tropical and subtropical areas of the Americas (around 300 species) including the Caribbean and West Indies, but also with some species in Africa, Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands. One species (O. foetens) is native to the Macaronesia (in Canary Islands and Madeira). The genus is suspected to be paraphyletic.

Wikipedia authors and editors
visit source
partner site
wikipedia EN