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Heisteria parvifolia Sm.

General Information

Without fruit this species can at first be hard to recognise because of the lack of striking features. However the whitish slash, the slightly winged, zigzag ridging to the young twigs and the clearly channelled and slightly winged petioles allow the experienced person to identify it quickly. The most remarkable aspect of this species is the way in which the calyx of the tiny flower expands greatly in fruit to form the brightly coloured organ that we assume acts to attract dispersal agents such as birds. The calyx in fruit is lobed almost to the base; this character separates it from the other two species that occur in central Africa. The fruit, like all members of the Olacaceae, contain a single seed. The tree is often only 2–3 m high but in some areas it can form a tree with a diameter of about 20 cm.


Terra firma and seasonally flooded forest.


Distribution: Senegal to Zaire, Gabon and Uganda.