A thank you to Taisha for writing today’s entry.
Today’s images are of Clusia rosea, or the autograph tree (photo 1 | photo 2). Both photographs display the dry and hardened capsule after seed release, while the second image also shows leaves. These photos were taken by frequent contributor to the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool, Damon Tighe (Damon Tighe@Flickr) on June 4, 2013 in Hilo, Hawaii, USA. Thank you Damon for the photographs!
The autograph tree, of the Clusiaceae, is one of about 145 species within the genus. Clusia species are mainly found in subtropical and tropical regions of the New World (including Clusia rosea), Madagascar, and New Caledonia. This tree is called the autograph tree because one can etch their autograph or other graffiti on the long-lasting leathery leaves and it will appear a bright white.
Clusia rosea (PDF) is a tree with smooth brown bark that can reach a height of 10-20 meters. The thick leather leaves are simple and oppositely- or suboppositely-arranged. The short-lasting flowers have 6-8 rounded petals which are white when they bloom. These age to pink and eventually brown. The fruit that follows is a round green capsule that splits on 7-9 seams as it dries to reveal numerous fleshy red seeds. The seeds are bird dispersed, and these trees often start as epiphytes. If the seed lands upon another plant, it may germinate and send down aerial roots that will strangle, smother, and eventually kill the host as it continues to grow.