Overview

Comprehensive Description

Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Plains, Cultivated, Native of Tropical America"
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The Geiger-tree (Cordia sebestena) is a shrub or small tree native to the Caribbean region, but widely grown as an ornamental throughout the tropics and subtropics for its showy reddish-orange flowers. Although Florida is sometimes said to fall within its native distribution, it has been argued that it was almost surely introduced to the Florida Keys early in the 19th century, possibly by John Geiger, a ship captain residing in Key West (Hammer 2000; Wunderlin and Hansen 2008). However, Gann et al. (2008) claim that it is, in fact, native to Florida, stating that intensive research in herbaria indicates that this species is native to the Florida Keys and extreme southern mainland.

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Distribution

Range Description

This species is widespread in tropical America, from Florida to South America. It occurs in many countries in this region from the Florida Keys to Venezuela. It is reported to be introduced in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (Acevedo-Rodriguez and Strong 2012), however, there is some thought that it may be native to this area as well. In the Turks and Caicos Islands it is found on the eastern coast of East Caicos from Drum Point south to Drum Creek, and on McCartney Cay. Occurs mostly around sea level.
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"Karnataka: Chikmagalur, Hassan, N. Kanara, Shimoga Tamil Nadu: All districts"
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Cordia sebestena is widely planted as an ornamental throughout the tropics and subtropics. The boundaries of its native range appear to be controversial. It is clearly native to at least some islands of the West Indies, although Little and Wadsworth (1964) specifically state that it is not native to Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands. Its native range is sometimes claimed to include at least parts of Central and South America. There is also controversy about whether this species is actually native to Florida, or whether it was introduced to the Florida Keys in the early 19th century, as many have argued (Hammer 2000; Wunderlin and Hansen 2008. Gann et al. (2008) claim that intensive research in herbaria indicates that this species is indeed native to the Florida Keys and extreme southern mainland. Gann et al. give the native range as "south Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, and Central America".

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Physical Description

Morphology

The Geiger-tree (Cordia sebestena) is a shrub or small tree (reaching about 7 to 8 m height, 15 cm diameter). The thick evergreen leaves are broad (10 to 20 cm long and 5 to 10 cm wide), long-pointed at the apex, and often toothed on the edges; leaves are very rough on the upper surface and usually hairy below. Twigs are hairy. The tubular, orange-to-red flowers (present year round) are about 4 cm across and clustered at the ends of twigs. The white, pointed, pear-shaped fruits are about 2.5 to 5 cm long with a large seed. (Little and Wadsworth 1964; Petrides 1988)

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Description

Small shrub or tree up to 8 m tall. Branchlets minutely pubescent on nerves, hairy. Leaves ovate, 8-16 x 4.5-10 cm, entire, coriaceous, undersurface minutely pubescent on nerves. Flowers 2-5 cm long, in terminal cymes, orange-red. Calyx 12-15 mm long. Corolla crinkly, lobes crenulate. Fruit c. 2.4 cm long, ovoid, whitish.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Tree
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
A medium sized tree to approximately 10 metres in height that is usually found in sandy or rocky coastal thickets (Correll and Correll 1982). Collections indicate that is also found in scrublands as well as on dry hillsides. It has a high salt tolerance making it suitable to grow in coastal areas. As it is used as an ornamental it is also found in urban areas as a street tree (Brown 2003).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Cordia sebestena grows in poor soils and on seashores (Petrides 1988) and is often planted as an ornamental (Little and Wadsworth 1964). It flourishes in dry soils and is tolerant of salt conditions (Seddon and Lennox 1980). Gann et al. (2008) describe the habitat in South Florida as coastal berm, disturbed upland, and rockland hammock.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: mostly throughout the year.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2014

Assessor/s
Linsky, J.

Reviewer/s
Clubbe, C.P.

Contributor/s

Justification
Cordia sebestenais a tree that has a large native distribution from Florida to South America. It is used in ornamental landscaping and as a street tree throughout the Neotropics. It is known to be quite common throughout its range and is subject to ex situ conservation through seeds and living collections. It is not known to be under any major threats or decline in population. Additionally, it does not meet any of the threatened criteria and is therefore assessed as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure

Reasons: Occurs in southern Florida, most of the Antilles, the northern coast of South America, and in Yucatan, Mexico (Record, 1924).

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Population

Population
There is no detailed population information for this species. However, it is known to be common throughout the Neotropics.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
This species has a wide distribution and is abundant where it occurs. In some parts of its range urban development has reduced the suitable habitat for this species, however, this is not a major threat to the species. In the Turks and Caicos Islands the Geiger Tortoise Beetle, Physonota calochroma floridensis, feeds on the leaves and can defoliate trees. This beetle is also present in Florida, causing extensive damage to the trees (Brown 2003).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There is an ex situ collection of the variety C. sebestena var. sebestena in the form of a seed collection stored in Kew's Millenium Seed Bank as well as living material at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (M. Corcoran and T. Heller pers. comms. 2012). Additionally, living collections of this variety are present in the Turks and Caicos National Museum Botanical and Cultural Garden. Management protection of suitable habitat for this species and both varieties, particularly in the Caribbean, will aid in the continued secure its status.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

The fruit of Cordia sebestena is edible, but not commonly eaten by people (Whistler 2000). The dark brown wood is heavy, hard, and close-grained and has been used in Latin America to make cabinets and furniture (Elias 1980).

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Wikipedia

Cordia sebestena

Cordia sebestena is a species of flowering plant in the borage family, Boraginaceae, that is native to the American tropics. It ranges from southern Florida in the United States and The Bahamas southwards throughout Central America and the Greater Antilles.[1] Common names include siricote or kopté (Mayan) in 19th Century northern Yucatán,[2] scarlet cordia on Jamaica,[3] and Geiger Tree (after Key West wrecker John Geiger) in Florida.[4]

Cultivation[edit]

Cordia sebestena is widely planted throughout the tropics and subtropics as an ornamental plant in gardens because of its flowers. It has dark green, oval shaped leaves, and grows oval shaped fruits that are edible, but not flavorful. Cordia sebestena tolerates drought but not frost.

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Taxon: Cordia sebestena". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 1997-03-24. Retrieved 2013-02-25. 
  2. ^ Heilprin, Angelo (July–December 1891). "Observations on the flora of North Yucatan". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 29 (136): 137–44. 
  3. ^ "Bats Of Jamaica". Museum, University of Nebraska State. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  4. ^ Nelson, Gil (1996). The Shrubs and Woody Vines of Florida: a Reference and Field Guide. Pineapple Press Inc. p. 63. ISBN 978-1-56164-110-9. 
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Notes

Comments

The ‘geiger tree’ is a native of the W. Indies, S. W. USA. and Venezuela. Sparingly cultivated for its attractive cymes of large showy flowers. The fruit is edible.
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