Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

BAKERIDESIA GAUMERI, flowers and leaves

from the February 12, 2012 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

Nowadays a ten-ft-tall tree (3m), a member the Hibiscus Family, is abloom with 1½-inch-wide (3.8cm), yellow flowers. It's BAKERIDESIA GAUMERI, known only from the Yucatán Peninsula and a single collection in Honduras. Leaves and flowers of "Gaumer's Bakeridesia" are shown above. A flower close-up showing many stamens clustered around the base of the five-parted style is shown below:


Since this is such a little-known species, it's worth documenting the flower's bowl-shaped calyx atop a short pedicle, all densely hairy with branched hairs, below:

BAKERIDESIA GAUMERI, calyx with stellate hairs

These features indicate that Gaumer's Bakeridesia is a member of the Hibiscus Family. In that family often fruit structure is more useful for identification than flower structure. An immature fruit, unusually hairy and divided into ten sections, or carpels, is shown below:


Flowers of Bakeridesia gaumeri -- which has no English name -- usually are completely orangish-yellow, as in the above pictures, but sometimes, right next to all-yellow-flowered ones, there are red-eyed ones, shown below:

BAKERIDESIA GAUMERI, flower with red eye

"Gaumer's Bakeridesia" is nearly entirely restricted to the northern Yucatán, with few collections from outside Yucatán State. The species seems exquisitely adapted just for our rather dry, scrubby forests, and disappear from the landscape when the forest grows only a little more lush and moist.

The genus Bakeridesia is a small, mostly unknown one. This plant is pretty enough and long-flowering enough to be planted as an ornamental. It's a species just waiting to be noticed by someone who'll introduce it to the gardening world.