Plant Listings

Pithecellobium keyense

Common Name: Rams Horn

Habit: Pithecellobium keyense grows as shrub to small tree up to seven meters in height.  Typically the trunk is narrow (less than 15 centimeters) and multi-branched. The trunk can be rough with shallow fissures. The leaves are arranged alternately and are twice pinnately compound with two – four leaves per pinna.  The leaflets are sessile. Young branches may occasionally have prickles.

The inflorescence is a head arranged in panicles.  The heads are two – three centimeters wide and range from white to pink to reddish in color. The calyx has five fused sepals. The corolla has five fused petals. The calyx and corolla are fused into a single structure. There are numerous stamens that are much longer than the perianth and provide the coloring of the heads. The fruit is a legume that becomes coiled (hence Rams Horn) as it matures.  The seeds are black with a bright red aril.

Habitat: Pithecellobium keyense grows in sand and limestone substrate Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formations (Coppice), Pine woodlands as well as human disturbed areas.            

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Pithecellobium keyense occurs on all island groups in the Bahamian Archipelago as well as south Florida, Cuba and Mexico (Yucatan Peninsula).  It is a common species through out its range.    

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Pithecellobium keyense has no known medicinal uses.  The red arils are edible. It has become part of the horticultural trade because of its beautiful flowers and distinctive coiled fruits.

There are five related species of Pithecellobium in the Bahamian Archipelago.