Plant Listings

Hypelate trifoliata

Hypelate trifoliata Sw.

Common Names:  White Iron Wood, Ebony

Family: Sapindaceae  

Habit: Hypelate trifoliata grows as a large shrub to small tree up to 12 m in height with a stem to 20 cm in diameter.  The bark is smooth and grey.  The trifoliate leaves are arranged alternately to sub-oppositely. The leaflets are sessile, to 6 cm in length, have a rounded to sub-acute to retuse leaf apex and entire margin.  The abaxial surface is tomentose when young causing it to look silvery.

The actinomorphic, monoecious flowers are arranged in panicles. The calyx has 4 (or 5) unfused greenish sepals.  The corolla has 4  (or 5) unfused, white to pink petals. Staminate flowers have 8-10 stamens, no carpels.  The carpellate flowers have 8 staminodes.  The ovary is superior and is 3-lobed with 3 locules each with a single ovule. The fruit is a black drupe at maturity.

Habitat: Hypelate trifoliata grows in Pine Woodlands and Dry Broadleaf Evergreen Formations – Forest/Woodlands/Shrublands (coppice and scrublands).

Distribution in Bahamas/Globally: Hypelate trifoliata occurs on all island groups in the Bahamian Archipelago, Florida, and the Caribbean region.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Hypelate trifoliata is not used medicinally in the Bahamas.  The wood is hard and has been used for woodworking particularly boat building.  The leaves can be used as a soap substitute and wood shavings soaked in water can be used as a bleaching solution.

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