Thespesia populnea

Thespesia populnea (L.) Soland. ex Correa

Common Names: Seaside Mahoe, Cork Tree, Spanish Cork

Family: Malvaceae

Habit: Thespesia populnea grows as a large shrub to tree to 8 meters in height with peeling, scaly bark.  The leaves are arranged alternately, to 13 cm long, ovate to orbicular with an entire leaf margin, acute leaf apex and cordate leaf base with glands.  The leaves are glabrous.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in leaf axils. The calyx has 5 green, fused sepals forming a shallow cup. The corolla has 5 yellow, unfused petals with a red-purple spot at the base of each. The corolla changes to a darker almost purple color as the flower ages. There are numerous stamens that are fused forming a tube around the style. The ovary is superior with 5 locules and numerous ovules.  The fruit is a woody capsule that is brown at maturity breaking apart rather than splitting along suture lines. The seeds are pubescent.

Habitat: Thespesia populnea grows around fresh and saline wetlands, along coastal areas including behind Dunes and Human Altered environments.

Distribution: Thespesia populnea grows throughout the Lucayan Archipelago as well as tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Likely Old World-Indian subcontinent in origin.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usage: Thespesia populnea is used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago to treat pain (headaches).