Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

GARCIA NUTANS, leaves and fruits

from the January 29, 2012 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

After over two years of being here, not over a hundred yards (meters) from the hut, a tree species has turned up that's new to me. Not only have I never seen the species before, but I've never seen anything in its family. For me it's an exciting discovery. It's about 12 feet tall (3.7m) and is fruiting. You can see the tree's three-parted, drupe-type fruits and broad leaves that are much lighter below than above at the top of this page.

A fruit displaying its thin, dry and fairly hard husk is shown below:

GARCIA NUTANS fruit showing thin husk

The brittle, dry drupe is divided into three hollow compartments, or carpels. In each carpel two dry seeds hang suspended in otherwise empty chambers as shown below:

GARCIA NUTANS, fruit open to show pendulous seed

Seeing the three lobed fruit I was fairly sure the tree belonged to the Spurge or Poinsettia Family, the Euphorbiaceae. On the Internet, the unusual fruits match those of GARCIA NUTANS, a little known tree seldom noted, by found from the central and southern lowlands of Mexico and the Caribbean islands south to Columbia in northern South America.

I can find no English name for the plant except  False Tungoiltree, and I just don't like that name, and will call it Garcia here.

What a buzz to find something so rare and interesting -- and so close to my own front door!