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Lecythis ampla is a canopy emergent tree from the Lecythidaceae family, commonly known as the Brazil nut family. L. ampla is found in primary lowland moist to wet tropical forests between sea level and 800 meters, endemic to Central America and northern South America (Flores 1994). It is the largest fruited Lecythis species throughout its range, and likely evolved after it was allopatrically separated from its ancestors by the rise of the Andes Mountains during the Pleistocene (Mori and Prance 1981). Lecythis ampla is around 45 m tall, is found in low densities in mature forest, and has shade tolerant seedlings (Clark and Clark 1992). The crown is branched and spherical, with simple alternate leaves that are dropped right before flowers bloom. L. ampla grows well in alluvial, sandy, and clayey soils, however it does not do well in poorly drained areas (Flores 1994). One of the most characteristic aspects of this species of tree is its large, pot shaped fruits that hang upside down revealing seeds within, and can be found around the forest floor long after they have fallen. Large bees pollinate the flowers and frugivorous and omnivorous bats disperse seeds, while monkeys and rodents mostly predate them (Flores 1994). While L. ampla is not currently on the IUCN red list, it is considered threatened by researchers due to its status as highly valuable timber (IUCN 2015, Flores 1994, Madrigal et al. 2011).


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