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Commiphora monstruosa vs. Operculicarya hyphaenoides Dan Mahr Interestingly, C.

monstruosa was originally described by Perrier as a member of the genus Operculicarya. In 1962, Capuron published a paper in the journal Adansonia, the title of which can be translated from the original French as “Contributions to the knowledge of forest flora of Madagascar.” In this paper Capuron described several new species of Commiphora, but also discussed monstruosa. He concluded, based on reproductive structures, that this is actually a Commiphora and made the formal change. In 1995, Urs Eggli, in a revision of the genus Operculicarya, agreed that monstruosa was indeed a Commiphora. The following is a rough translation of part of Capuron’s article (if anyone is able and willing to translate botanical French, I’ll be happy to send the original). In this passage he is comparing C. monstruosa to Operculicaryas. Remember that O. pachypus was not described at this time; it was described in 1995 by Eggli. “The two Operculicarya, O. decaryi and O. hyphaenoides, have leaves, especially at first [when first expanding?], that can be confused with those of C. monstruosa, but they can be easily distinguished because their [Operc] rachis is expanded into a phyllode [a phyllode is a winged rachis] between the leaflets. When defoliated, Operculicarya in habitat can easily be distinguished from Commiphora because of their thick bark, which has a very particular aspect: its surface is covered completely by large, thick, swollen areas, rounded on the top… [This refers to the “bumps” on Operculicarya plants.]; in addition, in Operculicarya the epidermis [thin outer bark layer] does not peel.” In Eggli’s paper he describes hyphaenoides as a tree to 1.5 m (what we saw in habitat were often at least twice that). He says that they have “several thick gnarled trunks from [a] common base…with irregularly bumpy-warty bark” [conforming with Capuron’s discussion]. What we saw in habitat had single trunks. He also indicates that the end twigs are more or less straight; what we saw in habitat were distinctly zig-zag, conforming to the herbarium specimens I have seen. The leaf of hyphaenoides that he illustrates is clearly with winged rachis. Eggli also says that hyphaenoides appears to occur only at the type locality, which was quite some distance from the plants we saw. Note that the leaflets of both hyphaenoides and monstruosa are pubescent, unlike the leaves of O. decaryi and O. pachypus. Mike Massara has seen both plants in the field and says that they are quite different, with monstruosa having an unwinged rachis and purple bark and hyphaenoides having a winged rachis and unpeeling light grey bark. Mike also indicated that the plants he first sold as hyphaenoides were seedlings he acquired with that name from Roosli and Hoffmann. He no longer has any to compare with his current material. The following pictures are in the monstruosa folder under Commiphora.

Augustine Bay south of Toliara of what we were told was O. Herbarium specimens labeled monstruosa at the Missouri Botanic Garden. The illustrations of monstruosa in Capuron’s paper. Pictures taken at St. 3 & 4. Clearly they are C. and contributed to the chapter on Burseraceae for the Flora of Somalia. Plants that I received from Ralph Hoffmann in Zurich. The rachis is the part of the main leaf vein/stem that is between the pairs of leaflets. Pics 11 & 12 are bark close-ups. but which I am now believing is actually C. hyphaenoides. . 5 – 7. The plants were labeled “Commiphora monstruosa ?” and Ralph was uncertain at the time whether they were Commiphoras or Operculicaryas. Note that the identification was done by Jan Gillett. monstruosa. Shrubs.1. the chapter on Burseraceae for the Trees. who was probably the world’s foremost authority on Commiphoras before he died. Note the peeling bark. and Lianas of Kenya. An Operculicarya leaf showing the winged rachis. 8 – 12. grown from seeds collected in habitat. monstruosa. He wrote the book on Burseraceae for the Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2. It is noticeably widened (“winged”) into phyllodes.