trumpet tree
Cecropia obtusifolia

Trumpet Tree

Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Rosales
Genus: Cecropia

Geographic Range & Abundance :IMAGEDB.jpg
-This specific tree can be found in Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and Colombia.
--> emerges from dense vegetation on south bank of Rio Puerto Viejo
-Found in lower canopy layers of the forest
-Short-lived (rarely exceeds 80 years)

trunk of snakewood

& Morphology:
Small Tree: 25-30mm (80-100ft)
- realitve of the mulberry tree [3]
-umbrella-shaped [3]
-hollow, monopodial trunks (bamboolike)
- myrmecophilous (association and benefits from ants)
*trunks usually occupied by Aztec ants.

leaves of snakewood tree

The average size of the leaf blades range from 20-30 cm long-handlike clusters (palmate) of broad leaves

-are staminate flowers (have stamens but no carpel functions)
- spiked shaped (10-18cm long)
-are inflorescences, which are a cluster of flowers that are arranged on the axis. (floral stem)
- Female inflorescences will give rise to a cluster of three to five spadices.( 12 to 21cm long)

  • Spadices are a type of spike that has a fleshy axis (central part where plant organs and other parts, like branches are arranged) and is typically surrounded by a spathe.

- Male inflorescences are similar to the female, but has one difference, which is racemes can bear up to 8 -10 spadices.
  • Racemes are a indeterminate inflorescene, in which the main stem produces flowers on the lateral stalks.
    *Meaning the oldest flowers will be located at the base whereas the newer and younger flowers will be located at the top.
- Cecropia obtusifolia will begin to flower and fruit when trees are around five to six years old.
cecropia obtusifolia male flower
Female Cecropia Obtusifolia

Cecropia obtusifolia immature-fruit; http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Cecropia+obtusifolia
Cecropia obtusifolia fruit; http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Cecropia+obtusifolia
-ovoid to oblong shaped
- flattened somewhat
- seed are transported and eaten by mammals and birds

cecropia tree towering over other trees

- Thrives in areas of high rain fall (2000 to 3600 mm per year).
- Able to grow well in a varietyof soils, such as poor or well drained
- Can be found in elevations ranging from lowlands to 1300 m.
- In Costa Rica commonly found in disturbed areas and along rivers
in lowland, wet habitats.
- Commonly found in primary or secondary forests (very abundant) [2]


- Known as "pioneer" species, meaning they invade and grow rapidly in
areas of the forest that have been cleared. Can also be found along
riverbanks, roadsides, distributed areas and abandoned farmlands.

- Typically found in forests with areas of low precipitation.
- Regeneration occurs frequently and can be found in areas that have
been cleared.
- Known as "Gap specialists" forest. (can increase six ft in one year)
  • will fill in gaps that have been created from a landslide or fallen tree. [3]


- perennial
- Life cycle stages
a. seedlings
- includes new individiual with cotyledons & plants with entire leaves
- measurement of stems = about .30 cm in diameter
b. juveniles
- lobed leaves (unbranched, colonized by ants)
- measurement of stems = 0.3 to 4 cm in diameter
c. Mature
- branched
- measurement of stems = 10 cm in diameter

Interactions with other species: bird_on_crecropia_tree.jpg

- Three-toed sloth and two-toed sloth
*mature cecropia leaves are inadequate diet (fresh leaves or fruit are worth defending)
- Azteca Ants
*typically hollow internodes of these trees are occupied by single colonies of these biting ants. [3]

  • at La Selva there four Azteca species that can be found in small C.obtusifolia (A. xanthochroa, A. constructor, A. alfari, and A. ovaticeps) but among the larger more mature C.obtusifolia only contain two types. (A. xanthochroa and A. constructor)
  • Trees provide a home and food for the ants, while the ants clean the tree from debris, other plants and herbivores.

- Seeds are eaten by birds, bats and rodents (for example agouti) [2]
- Upon arriving at La Selva we had a day tour and were split into two different goups, our tour guide was named Fernando and he was helpful in providing infotmation for my specie of tree. He had explained to me that the leaves of my Cecropia obtusifolia were used in folk medicine to aid in the medical treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
- stems are filled with juice which is used as lubricant for canoes. [4]
- flowers are crushed/grounded and used for baking purposes. [4]

Personal Experience:
Since the trumpet tree is a pioneer tree as well as very abunant I was able to observe its nature in a variety of locations. The first time I saw my tree is when we were in a bus headed to La Selva, however this view was from a window seat. The morning after arrival, was the first time I actually was able to encouter my tree first-handed. The trumpet tree was right outside of the cafeteria,where we ate our meals three times a day. This was particuarly in my favor because I was able to observe the different kinds of species that interacted with my tree. Other locations along our trip that allowed me observe this tree were: on our day tour then again on our boat tour as well as throughout trails in La Selva.

Works Cited

[1] "Cecropia Obtusifolia Risk Assessment." Hawaiian Ecosystems at Risk Project (HEAR). Web. 09 Mar. 2010. http://www.hear.org/pier/wra/pacific/cecropia_obtusifolia_htmlwra.htm.
[2] "Cecropia Tree." Passport to Knowledge. Web. 08 Mar. 2010. http://passporttoknowledge.com/rainforest/ECOsystem/Plants/cecropia.html.
[3] "Flora in Costa Rica at Frommer's." Frommer's Travel Guides: The Best Trips Start Here! Web. 09 Mar. 2010. http://www.frommers.com/destinations/costarica/0219020237.html.
[4] "Google Image Result for Http:www.hilozoo.com/images/trees/t_cecropia2.jpg." Google Images//. Web. 09 Mar. 2010. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.hilozoo.com/images/trees/t_cecropia2.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.hilozoo.com/zoo_facts_plants_trees.php&usg=__6LbEbX8OSAxRUc8WldW-oLJK8H0=&h=248&w=324&sz=18&hl=en&start=6&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=eNtXlpvQ12li9M:&tbnh=90&tbnw=118&prev=/images%3Fq%3DCecropia%2Bobtusifolia%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox%26rlz%3D1I7GGLL_en%26tbs%3Disch:1.