Canopy Family | Prestonia trifida

Prestonia trifida

Prestonia trifida Panama
Photo by Jerry & Linda Harrison


Prestonia trifida (also known as P. obovata as a synonym) is a liana (woody vine) in the family Apocynaceae that is easily recognizable when flowering. The inflorescence consists of a cluster of several flowers, each tubular with a raised rim in the center with five yellowish appendages (petals) that flare off the end of the tube. The tube is 2 cm long. The rim is pinkish to white. Fruits are dry paired follicles, 25-35 cm long, often woody in appearance like the stem. Seeds contained in the fruits are 2 mm long, and are dispersed by wind. The leaves are opposite, 14-28 cm long by 9-18 cm wide. The vine, when broken, produces a milky sap, or latex.

Prestonia trifida is found in the forest; in Panama, it flowers during the dry season and early rainy season (January to September), and especially in July. Fruits mature in the late rainy season and early dry season (October to January). In Panama, this species can be found in the lowland forests around Canopy Tower and Canopy Camp. It is also found in the foothills of central Panama. It ranges from southern Costa Rica to Peru and Brazil.